SoftBank’s Arm to Include Cybereason Security Services in IoT Hub

Security-tech company Cybereason is announcing another boon flowing from close ties with its biggest investor, Japanese telecom and tech giant SoftBank. Boston-based Cybereason has formed a partnership with Arm, the dominant developer of computer chip architecture, which was acquired by SoftBank in 2016.

Cybereason’s security services will be incorporated into the Arm Pelion IoT platform, a suite of Web-based tools that help businesses manage Internet of Things devices, their connectivity, and the data they generate. Cambridge, U.K.-based Arm unveiled the IoT management hub in August, as it also announced its related acquisition of Mountain View, CA-based data management company Treasure Data for an undisclosed sum.

Sam Curry, Cybereason’s chief security officer, said the company will augment the cybersecurity features already provided by the Pelion IoT platform. Cybereason had already been collaborating with Arm for at least a year, Curry says, as the two companies envisioned the support services they could provide to IoT device makers, as well as customers deploying hundreds or thousands of intelligent machines built into everything from connected cars to power plants.

Dipesh Patel, president of Arm’s IoT services group, says Cybereason adds a dimension to the Pelion platform: “Our customers will have essential visibility into the communication patterns, behaviors, and activities of IoT-connected devices, enabling them to stop malicious activity at its inception,” Patel said in a written statement on the partnership Wednesday.

Cybereason discovers and responds to cyberattacks by patrolling the endpoints of customer networks, such as desktop computers, laptops, and mobile phones. It offers next-generation antivirus protection, data analytics, and “AI hunting,” an automated threat detection system powered by artificial intelligence software. The company has 450 employees and more than 350 customers including Motorola, Beam Suntory, Lockheed Martin, and SoftBank. The leading Japanese company led a $59 million fundraising round for Cybereason in 2015, and invested $100 million in the company in 2017, bringing its fundraising total to $189 million.

The collaboration with Arm is Cybereason’s first partnership in IoT, but it intends to launch many others.

The company’s rates for its services are based not only on the features chosen by customers, but also on the number of devices they place under Cybereason’s care, Curry says. The partnership with Arm opens up opportunities to safeguard some of the millions of IoT devices—which are expected to multiply into the billions—as they take on more tasks and gain more computing power, he says.

The number of such connected, intelligent devices could reach one trillion by 2035, creating hybrid networks of widely distributed machines, Cybereason says. Unfortunately, they would also expand the attack surface for hackers, the company says.

At the Arm Tech Con conference in San Jose this week, Arm and Cybereason scheduled a demonstration of the dangers of IoT with a simulated hack of a home smart meter that then spreads to other devices, cuts off the home’s power, and takes down the city’s power grid.

The two companies plan to roll out Cybereason’s services on the Pelion IoT platform by the first half of next year. Specific details aren’t yet being disclosed on how customers will access and pay for Cybereason’s features, says Charlene Marini, Arm’s vice president of strategy for IoT products. In general, clients can pick and choose among the elements offered on the IoT management hub, she says.

The Pelion IoT platform was designed to be used with devices equipped with chips based on Arm’s architecture, and using the MBED operating system recommended by Arm, Marini says. But Arm intends to make the platform useful for customers deploying any device, she says. To that end, Arm on Tuesday announced a collaboration with Intel to provide secure onboarding of devices with processors based on Intel’s X86 architecture, via the Pelion hub. Arm also plans to accommodate the use of any cloud service provider.

Arm’s target customers for the Pelion platform are large businesses that are extending their digital transformations by plugging into the physical world through the use of connected devices, Marini says. For example, a logistics company might install warehouse shelves with devices that can detect the position of packages, and feed the data to a central inventory database. Arm aims to make those new systems easier to implement, while it guards against hackers who would exploit the vulnerabilities of connected devices as simple as sensors, she says.

“We’re finding that the complexity of devices and security standards around devices can get past the skill sets of many enterprises,” Marini says.

Arm is competing in a “fragmented space” when it comes to the online management of connected devices, Marini says. There are companies specializing in mobile device management, for example, and others that have managed industrial machines for many years, she says. Arm hopes to bring those specializations under the same tent through partnerships with the Pelion hub.

“What’s really needed is a way to provide those capabilities at scale across these different kinds of devices,” Marini says.

Bernadette Tansey is Xconomy's San Francisco Editor. You can reach her at btansey@xconomy.com. Follow @Tansey_Xconomy

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