Syed Abdur, VP of Product Management & Marketing at Brinqa talks about how cyber risk services were built for security, transforming security, context and threat data into knowledge-driven insights – to empower organizations to their own cyber risk.
1. Tell us about your role at Brinqa. How much of your typical day is involved in innovating Cyber Security tech for your customers?
I am the VP of Product Management and Marketing at Brinqa, a Cyber Risk Management firm based out of Austin, Texas. In this capacity I am responsible for the overall strategy and technical direction of Brinqa solutions. A significant part of my day is spent trying to understand, analyze, and come up with innovative solutions to the cybersecurity challenges faced by our customers and the cybersecurity community at large.
2. What are the applications or rather opportunities you seek to have with your product?
Brinqa provides the most comprehensive coverage for cyber risk analysis and management across the entire enterprise technology infrastructure.
Brinqa customers can implement a consistent cyber risk management strategy across the enterprise — through dedicated, purpose-built integrations with security products for networks, applications, cloud, containers, IoT, operational technology (OT), and mobile devices.Brinqa solutions are built on a comprehensive, standardized data ontology that clearly defines, delineates and represents the common IT, security and business assets that comprise a typical enterprise technology infrastructure, and the relationships between them. Customers have complete access to the data modeling capabilities used to define and develop this ontology; and can modify the out of the box (OOB) risk models to accurately represent their unique environments.
3. How did you define the vision of Brinqa? How did you approach your first 100 days at Brinqa?
Brinqa was founded by cybersecurity industry veterans Amad Fida and Hilda Perez. In their extensive experience working with enterprise cybersecurity customers, one thing that struck them was the increasing complexity of enterprise technology ecosystems and the cybersecurity infrastructure charged with protecting it. They founded Brinqa to address the urgent need for a solution to connect and synchronize siloed cybersecurity products, processes and teams toward the unified goal of reducing cyber risk and improving an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
A significant portion of my first 100 days was spent speaking to customers and prospects to really try to understand their pain points and the challenges they were most anxious to address.
4. What are some of the unique lessons you have learned from analysing your customer behaviour?
An important lesson learned from analyzing customer behavior is that effective cybersecurity solutions and programs must be dynamic enough to adapt to an organization’s unique technology environment and business mandates. When designing cybersecurity solutions, it is critical to ensure that they not only lean on industry standards and frameworks but also address the unique needs of every organization.
5. Brinqa recently received the 2020 Cloud Computing Security Excellence Award. Can you elaborate more on the same?
It was an honor to earn the Cloud Computing Security Excellence Award for our recent advancements in the Cyber Risk Management space. The Cloud Computing Security Excellence Award, presented by Cloud Computing magazine, recognizes companies and their products that have most effectively leveraged cloud computing in their efforts to bring new, differentiated offerings to market. In our case, this is a testament to the Brinqa platform and cybersecurity data integration ecosystem, which allows our customers to centralize and consolidate all relevant cybersecurity and business data into a unified, high-performance, real-time knowledge source for cybersecurity decisions. Delivered as SaaS, the Brinqa solution seamlessly connects and automates all of an organization’s existing cybersecurity tools — whether they are deployed on-premises or in the cloud.
6. Brinqa was honored as the Most Innovative Company of the Year in the 2020 American Business Awards Program. Can you elaborate more on the same?
We were honored to earn the Gold Stevie Award and to be named the Most Innovative Company of the Year by the American Business Awards. Nicknamed the ‘Stevies’, these awards recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Our nomination and win were based on the fact that Brinqa has designed and developed the cybersecurity industry’s first Knowledge Graph — the Cyber Risk Graph — a real-time representation of an organization’s infrastructure and apps, delineation of interconnects between assets and to business services, and a unified knowledge source for cyber risk decisions.
Knowledge graphs are the data architecture behind some of the most prominent technologies of today. Pioneered as the data framework behind Google Search, the concept has since been adopted by other technologies and companies that depend on context-rich, relationship-intensive datasets, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. The common thread between these technologies is DATA. Not just volume, but also the complexity of the information. These datasets are always changing and the mechanisms to collect, represent and analyze this information to create true knowledge have to automatically adapt. This is also true for modern enterprise technology environments and the cybersecurity infrastructure designed to protect it.
7. What are some of the common pain points that your customers commonly approach you with?
Many organizations struggle with understanding the impact and value of cybersecurity. At the heart of this challenge is a common disconnect between the three primary stakeholders — Business, IT, and InfoSec. With the advent of digital transformation, businesses are increasingly dependent on technology as a competitive advantage. IT departments are responsible for facilitating and managing the enterprise technology infrastructure. InfoSec is tasked with keeping all digital transactions and the underlying ecosystem secure. These stakeholders often work in silos, with limited interaction. This can happen for various reasons – siloed systems and processes, lack of a common language and nomenclature, and data overload. Brinqa is breaking these siloes and enabling all relevant stakeholders to work together towards the common goal of securing and protecting the enterprise.
8. What advice would you like to give to the upcoming Cyber Security tech start-ups?
Advice, I would give to any upcoming Cyber Security start-ups is to build solutions not just for the problems of today, but also for the challenges that will come up tomorrow. The technological landscape is constantly changing, often at break-neck speeds, and one of the key challenges for the cybersecurity industry is how to not just keep pace, but rather practice proactive innovation and stay one step ahead.
9. Can you give us a sneak peek into some of the upcoming product upgrades that your customers can look forward to?
Upcoming Brinqa releases aim to make the platform even more dynamic and extendable. As part of this effort, we are working to open up our connector development framework. We currently have more than 100 connectors to a variety of IT and security systems, with almost as many more connectors in queue for implementation. However currently we develop these integrations internally and that can be a bottleneck as we are constantly getting requests for new connectors from our customers, prospects, and industry peers. Opening up the connector development framework to our customers and partners will allow them to develop connectors on their own and help us to expand our integration ecosystem at a significantly faster rate.
We are also working on a new GraphQL-based API that can be used by not only developers but also by business users with limited or no development knowledge. Giving these non-technical users powerful tools to engage and interact with the Brinqa platform will open up the possibilities for a new generation of data-driven analytics solutions. By combining our graph database (Neo4j) with a new API methodology (GraphQL) we can provide UI developers with the flexibility to create a rich report builder that is immediately relevant to our business users. This is also beneficial to developers as they are able to leverage the same API, improving code quality and consistency through more interactive and self-documenting API usage than traditional REST APIs.
10. Which is the one Cyber Security breakthrough you will be on the lookout for in the upcoming year?
I am hopeful and optimistic about the emergence and wide-spread adoption of Low Code Application Development in Cyber Security. This is a trend that has been instrumental in facilitating digital transformation across a wide range of businesses. Due to the complex nature of cybersecurity problems, relatively low maturity of cybersecurity organizations, and a lack of dedicated tooling, this trend has not been as widely adopted in cybersecurity. With improved organizational maturity and ready availability of low code cybersecurity application development platforms, this trend is poised to make a big impact on the industry.
11. Please share a recent piece of content (can be video, podcast, blog, movie, webinar) that resonated the most with you with respect to Cyber Security or your work in general?
I recently participated on a webinar panel about a topic that is very close to my heart – risk-based security.
12. What is your go-to strategy that brings technology and the human side of marketing together?
Being a data analytics firm at our core, we try to apply the same data-centric ethos to our Marketing processes that we do to our cybersecurity solutions. In both cases, optimal results can be achieved by using tooling to do the tedious data management work, applying automation where possible, and by including humans at critical stages of the decision-making process.
13. What is the one quote that has stayed with you throughout your professional life?
“Those who can imagine anything, can create the impossible.” – Alan Turing
VP of Product Management & Marketing at Brinqa
Syed brings a passion for design thinking and engineering to Brinqa where he leads product management, strategy, and technical marketing. He is responsible for driving the overall strategy and technical direction of Brinqa product lines. Syed has a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California and his previous work experience includes technical software development and delivering large enterprise security applications at Sun Microsystems and Oracle.