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As SaaS platforms explode in popularity, developers are finding it easier than ever to write applications that plug in and reach big user bases. But this has created a growing security headache as the number of applications running on enterprise SaaS platforms soars.
Idan Fast, Lior Yaari, and Alon Shenkler joined forces last year when they saw an opportunity to address this problem. Their new startup, Grip Security, is the latest member of the red-hot Israeli cybersecurity ecosystem.
In an interview with VentureBeat, Yaari said Grip aims to revolutionize SaaS security with an enforceable endpoint-centric approach that secures all SaaS application access, regardless of device or location.
“SaaS is becoming a problem, with the ever-growing landscape of SaaS within enterprises,” he said. “Hundreds of applications are being used, and there is a lack of tools to control that.”
Grip is just at the start of that journey. Today, the company officially unveiled itself and announced it has raised $6 million in a funding round led by YL Ventures. It also boasts an impressive roster of business angels, including CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz, former Akamai CSO Andy Ellis, former Zscaler CISO Michael Sutton, and former Bank of America chief security scientist Sounil Yu.
According to Yaari, existing SaaS security tools have failed to offer comprehensive solutions and lack visibility and control for users. Because an enterprise may not see all their SaaS applications, they remain vulnerable.
He puts secure access service edge (SASE) in this category of approaches with limitations. That’s big talk, considering SASE has been showing tremendous momentum with both users and investors. In this respect, Grip will be competing against fellow Israeli startup Cato Networks, which pioneered SASE and raised rounds of $130 million and $77 million last year.
Boston-based SASE startup Iboss raised $145 million in January. Endpoint security company Lookout in March acquired CipherCloud, a cloud-native cybersecurity startup focused on SASE. And Cisco recently announced its own SASE offering.
But Yaari said such SaaS security solutions tend to approach the problem by trying to secure the network or by securing the applications.
“Both of them have blind spots in either the availability to cover the vast amount of applications that exist or the ability to cover things that are coming out of the corporate network,” he said.
Yaari and his cofounders are veterans of Israel’s security ecosystem, and their fast start is a testament to just how robust this beehive of security startups has become.
Despite facing some well-funded rivals, they are betting Grip can build a superior solution by creating a platform that automatically tracks all applications, no matter which device they are running on or where they’re located. By mapping data flows, the Grip platform will be able to apply security policies across a SaaS network and all applications. Eventually, the Grip platform will work alone or in tandem with a cloud access security broker.
“The platform itself does two things,” he said. “It discovers what applications are being used, which is a very big problem in the security space. And then for each application it discovers, it adds an additional security layer, allowing for access and data governance to those applications.”
Among the features the company is promising are greater visibility into all applications and risk profiles and protection against sensitive data flows.
Grip has already deployed an initial product for medium-sized tech companies that it’s learning from to further develop its platform. The product is currently only available to a limited number of companies as an early-access version.
Grip will use the funding to increase its customer count in order to accelerate development while expanding up to 30 employees by next year.
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