First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
David Barroso: We’re good, thank you! Living in strange times, but thankfully we’ve avoided the virus so far. In March, we successfully transitioned to 100% remote working, which allowed us to ensure business continuity while keeping a work and family balance.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded CounterCraft
David Barroso: Dan Brett (CSO), Fernando Braquehais (Head of Development), and I founded CounterCraft in 2015. We already knew each other, had conversations about starting a company, and wanted to make a difference in the cybersecurity industry. Cyber deception was the logical option for us: it was innovative and disruptive (still is), and it gives companies the power to change the rules of the game. It allows organizations to adopt a proactive stance by collecting enterprise cyber intelligence on their attackers, tactics, techniques, and procedures while keeping their sensitive data protected. This, in turn, will help them adopt better security measures and strategies.
As for myself, I am the CEO of the company. Before founding CounterCraft, I worked at ElevenPaths, Telefónica’s flagship cybersecurity business, and led the cybercrime division at a leading pure-play European cybersecurity company.
How does CounterCraft innovate?
David Barroso: A well-known quote within this industry states that there are two types of companies: those who have been hacked, and those that don’t know yet they’ve been hacked. In some cases, external attackers look for any crack that can allow them to get into a company’s network. Or maybe an angry employee decides to steal sensitive data, which is known as an internal threat situation. So, no matter how tall is the wall you built around a company to protect it: where there’s a will, even for unethical purposes, there’s a way.
Cyber deception is innovative in the sense that it allows organizations to defend themselves proactively. By creating a synthetic environment with baits that lure attackers exactly where they want them to be, companies can study them, make them quit in frustration, and effectively protect sensitive information.
CounterCraft deploys buffer zones inside and outside the organizational perimeter for early threat detection through the Cyber Deception Platform, and also provides Threat Intelligence Services to deflect attacks away from the VPN infrastructure of the organization, detect pre-breach activity and mitigate the risk of spear-phishing attacks.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
David Barroso: Actually, besides the obvious global health crisis, the coronavirus has brought a worldwide cybersecurity crisis as well. There has been a spectacular rise in cyberattacks. On the one hand, remote work has meant an increase in vulnerabilities, and a wider digital perimeter to protect, which includes remote connectivity systems, virtual private networks, virtual desktop servers, remote desktop connections, file sharing, FTP servers, and several more. And, let’s be honest, lots of users have been opting out of VPNs at their homes.
On the other hand, there have been some interesting spear-phishing campaigns from attackers that have taken advantage of this horrible situation. For example, in mid-February, the Hades group, in connection with Fancy Bear (APT28), launched a campaign by sending fraudulent documents, apparently coming from the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, as part of a broader disinformation operation that would affect the entire country from various fronts.
So, companies from the cybersecurity sector, such as CounterCraft, have lots of work to do because digital transformation demands security to be successful. Right now, we’re living a technological revolution, accelerated by all the changes that the COVID-19 has brought, and attackers are trying to get the upper hand.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
David Barroso: We decided to do remote work and hold all the meetings with our customers and investors online. It wasn’t a difficult choice —although we were physically far from each other, we could keep up with the demanding daily tasks and still feel close as a team. That’s how good our company culture is. So, I’d say the lesson we learned is that you should adapt to all kinds of situations and circumstances if you want to survive and surround yourself with highly motivated, extraordinary people.
As for CounterCraft, in particular, we have managed to close a $5 M investment round by Adara Ventures, eCAPITAL, and Red Eléctrica Group in the midst of the pandemic. It was crazy, but we feel really proud of having achieved this, despite the circumstances!
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you project yourself and CounterCraft in the future?
David Barroso: Well, now that we have the opportunity, we are enjoying outdoor activities —they say being in contact with nature is good for your wellbeing, as it helps you deal with stress. Sport is also good. And being with your friends, family, and loved ones, of course.
In addition, I think adapting to difficult situations helps a lot when it comes to coping with stress.
We plan to keep CounterCraft growing and expanding internationally, especially after this investment round. We are working remotely with all our customers and partners worldwide since March, and everything is doing well. Even in the current pandemic situation, we aim to become a benchmark in cybersecurity worldwide.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
David Barroso: We are currently the only European company in the cyber deception industry. All our competitors are from the US or Israel: Attivo Networks, Illusive Networks, Acalvio Technologies, and TrapX.
We keep up with the latest developments and product integrations, and also regularly communicate with our clients to provide them with a solution that really helps them with their cybersecurity needs. So, an appetite for continuous innovation and good communication with the clients is indispensable in staying in the game within this industry. And I’d say CounterCraft excels in both.
Your Final Thoughts
David Barroso: As I said, a company needs to adapt to changes —even if they come from difficult circumstances, they can bring unexpected opportunities. In fact, nobody grows when they’re comfortable. But the real key is perseverance: without it, any company fails to meet its goals, be them short-term or long-term.
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