Recently, while speaking with reporters at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee, the designer of the World Wide Web, spoke of how now is an important time to build a better web, to ensure its “journey from digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future.”
Those words can also be used to describe the challenges facing the Internet’s infrastructure, as it is used more and more as a means of connecting everything, from home to work. We are seeing daily reports of devices being hacked, and overall security being compromised, as TCP/IP, the underlying protocol of the web, is stretched far beyond the use-cases it was created for, some 40 years ago.
remote.it is a Silicon Valley based start-up, whose products are being resold by SoftBank to provide next-generation secure networking solutions for enterprise customers. Ryo Koyama, CEO, co-founder and Japanese national, provides some insights into the challenges of networking over the Internet and remote.it’s approach to overcoming them.
Why did you start remote.it and were you inspired by a competitor?
The idea came from personal need. My co-founder Mike Johnson and I, were each installing surveillance equipment at our homes, and we realized that the accepted way to remotely view your video cameras was not only complicated, but much worse, was a huge security issue. Given that we knew a lot about networking, in fact in our previous startup we invented the first hardware TCP/IP stack (later acquired by Nvidia), we used that knowledge to invent an easy-to-use, and absolutely secure way to allow remote connectivity, without creating the typical security “holes.”
What is your underlying technology and how does it work?
We have invented a way to bring addressing directly to devices, instead of network equipment. Once you’ve adding remote.it, any device can have an owner, who can privately and securely access the device, while it’s kept hidden from everyone else.
What are real world examples of customer problems you are solving for today?
The problem of exposed devices is so large that In Japan NICT (the National Research and Development Corporation Information and Communications Research Organization) is currently scanning Japan’s Internet to investigate the scale of the problem.
We see a big trend for Japanese enterprise customers eliminating their attack surface by removing the use of the public internet’s global IP addresses, and moving their connectivity over to mobile networks which are often private networks.
Who are your customers and how have they changed over time?
Initially our customers are building ‘new’ devices and they need a way to remotely connect, often across a mobile network. In addition to those types of customers, we are now seeing more customers come to us with large installed-bases of networked equipment that they want to make securely remote accessible.
What do you find to be the biggest misconception about network security today?
The biggest issue that we see is that most security is focused at the application layer. But looking at most of the hacks that happen, they are happening at the network layer. Companies are spending millions of dollars on application security, yet they just ‘accept’ the TCP/IP stack as is, because no one develops at that layer anymore.
What are your international expansion plans?
We are fortunate that SoftBank understands our solution and is reselling it not only in Japan, but also globally.
Because we have so much activity in Japan, we have already established and growing an office in Tokyo.
If you were a Japanese executive thinking about network security, what would be your advice?
My number one piece of advice would be to ask if you are in charge of your network security, or do you leave it up to the person in charge of the network wherever your equipment is? Many attacks have happened as a result of finding a security hole and ‘jumping’ to other data. Equipment makers must realize that their liability is not only about having their devices compromised, but what that compromise might lead to for their customers.