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CEO Amer Deeba on Dealing With Data Visibility With Normalyze

In the age of information, data is the most precious commodity. For companies that rely on data, lack of data visibility can create massive cybersecurity issues. According to a recent report by IBM, organizations lost up to $4.5 million on average because of data breaches. This is a significant loss that could put many enterprises out of business.

“All of that proliferation of data [across multiple cloud environments] that happened is creating a challenge for businesses,” said Amer Deeba, the CEO and co-founder of Normalyze, a new data security platform.

Security teams that are unable to effectively monitor and analyze their data invariably expose their organizations to significant losses. However, it would be unfair to put the blame entirely on security teams. After the pandemic, there’s been a massive transition toward saving data in the cloud rather than on premises. Moreover, this data is now being stored across multiple cloud services, making it difficult for security teams to have full visibility.

Amer Deeba: Be Proactive

In recent years, data has started to spread across multiple platforms. Organizations are unaware of where their sensitive data is being stored. This is why when a data breach happens, they’re unable to trace the path that led to their data being compromised. Not only does this result in economic losses for the company, but it can also have legal implications because they may be found to be in breach of data protection regulations.

“This is where you really need to, as a security team, have the right framework and think of it from an architectural point of view, how you get that visibility and that control on an ongoing basis so you can stop these types of threats and be proactive about it,” Deeba explained during an interview with Anna Delaney of the Information Security Media Group.

Deeba, a veteran of the IT sector, started Normalyze with Ravi Ithal. The founders of Normalyze are cybersecurity veterans and formed this company after realizing that there was an overwhelming demand for a holistic cybersecurity platform that made the lives of security teams easier.

On a personal level, Deeba’s interest in cybersecurity stemmed from seeing the havoc wreaked by a cybersecurity attack on a client. Seeing the fallout of the attack left a lasting impression on him, igniting a passion for finding comprehensive data security solutions.

When the two were setting up their company, they spoke to hundreds of professionals in the cybersecurity space. A theme that emerged continuously through their many conversations was the lack of visibility and how that was becoming an obstacle to making decisions in real-time. Their customers were organizations that were struggling to make sense of the cloud infrastructure, the assets, the data, and access points and piecing all that information together in a smart manner to prevent attacks from happening.

“It’s a problem that’s multifaceted and you need to tackle it in an intelligent, scalable, and efficient way, so you can really bring all this information in one place and have that visibility on an ongoing basis,” said Deeba.

Going Back to Basics

For organizations that are struggling with data visibility, Deeba recommended going back to the basics. Security teams should start with implementing network monitoring tools that provide visibility of device activities, communication patterns, and network traffic. The monitoring should extend to all cloud environments. Security teams also need to maintain up-to-date inventories of data and where it’s being stored, regularly scan for new devices, and make sure that assets have been configured correctly.

Deeba understands that this is a big task, which is exactly why he paired up with Ithal to create a platform that does all of the work for security teams, thus allowing them to stay ahead of the game. The two cybersecurity veterans have created an agentless data discovery and scanning platform that easily connects to any cloud account. It is fully compatible with Google Cloud Platform, Azure, and Amazon Web Services.

Normalyze can scan both structured and unstructured data. It does this by only collecting metadata. At no point during the scanning does the platform collect any sensitive data.

“Normalyze is a game changer. We can visualize our environment and discover attack paths in real time,” said Bernard Brantley, chief information security officer at Corelight.

The platform has made the task of security teams easier because of the multiple scans it conducts within the cloud environment to ensure data security. Initially, it performs a comprehensive discovery of data, infrastructure, and permissions. Users are alerted if their data doesn’t meet the regulatory compliance benchmarks set by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. It also identifies public exposure, excessive data permissions, and risky data access. This information is then displayed visually in an intuitive interface, making data visible to the security teams.

Security teams are also alerted about unused data access because, from a security point of view, it’s beneficial to limit unnecessary data access. So, for instance, if a team member has not accessed a data store in over six months, their access can be removed. However, making such decisions requires real-time visibility.

“Once you get that visibility, it becomes so much easier to make decisions and then to make the right proactive choices,” said Deeba.