Gianni Cuozzo from Exein talks about intelligence exploitation and how it is helping developers in building better IoT devices.
1. Tell us how you came to be the CEO at Exein. How much of your typical day involves innovating or ideating the Exein products for your customers?
I founded Exein, and my partners had knowledge of my previous entrepreneurial experience. They trusted in my leadership and becoming CEO of Exein.
When we started Exein, we experienced something unusual in the tech market. Usually, when you are launching a brand-new product, you have many things to use as a benchmark; you can refer to other existing products and competitors in the same space. With Exein, we started from scratch. Everything we have built, was built together with our customers. This is reflective of the fact that Exein’s team members are all typical customers of ours – because we are developers too. Every day we ask ourselves, what if we were the customer. What kind of features do we want to integrate? In the open source market, transparency is so valuable. We are very lucky to do what we love – creating products through customer research and development.
2. How did you define the vision of Exein? How did you approach your first 100 days as the CEO at Exein?
Most of the Exein team has a background in intelligence exploitation, and naturally that’s hugely beneficial, allowing us to define what could/would be a wall for us. The vision is helping developers build better devices. Why? Because in every device we looked at, we were coming across the same errors and vulnerabilities we found 15 years ago. We wondered, why hasn’t this improved?
The first 100 days was busy – setting up the office in the pre-Covid world. It was important to make a good environment for our team, nourishing and providing an inspirational workspace. For a company like Exein where our work is 90% thinking and 10% doing, our office must reflect this. We designed the space with a tech approach that inspires. I was also building a team made up of the right people -finding top talent can be challenging. Italy doesn’t spring to mind when you think tech, it is famous for more glamorous things – but there is a lot of tech here. The talent pool is smaller, but the quality is very high.
3. What are some of the industries that Exein caters to?
The major industries that we cover include the defence sector, network manufacturers and IoT manufacturers.
4. What are some of the common pain points that your customers commonly approach you with?
Framework development and security have three main challenges. The first is technological; It’s hard to create a product that fits all the security standards and various types of framework. Framework is different from general software; it’s more deeply connected to the hardware.
This brings another challenge; finding those with the skill and ability to build and secure devices. Most embedded engineers have a functional approach – they can install a framework that makes the device work – but they don’t know how to do it securely. This small gap affects our customers, and our product saves this. Lastly, hiring people purely for security measures is extremely costly. Therefore, we bring this automated solution that solves those problems altogether.
For our customers it’s challenging to find something that caters to all their needs – so often they must do this manually.
5. Please share some instances where Exein has directly affected brand efficiencies or ROI.
There are some critical infrastructure players that have had challenges in either changing all devices in the field or, making them secure. Without Exein, only the first option was possible. When you’re talking about large critical infrastructure such as smart gridor energy grid that counts at least 1 million devices for 1 million RTUs in many different countries, this becomes a costly process. And even if you want to update the framework manually, one by one, we’re talking huge quantities and colossal work to carry out. But if you don’t do this, you face a problem in terms of security.
6. Exein was recently in news for announcing the embedded security solution which will offer multi-layer and virtually impenetrable protection for IoT devices. Can you elaborate on the same?
With Exein Core, we can install and integrate a small AI brain inside the system, which makes it autonomous in understanding if it is under attack – even if it’s an unknown attack. Most security counter measures can only identify known attacks, by simply checking the signature. We want to bring safer devices that help to protect the network. This approach is more centralized, cutting human reaction time which especially in framework exploitation – means you don’t have time to react. We are delighted to announce our new product and we are immensely proud to see customers downloading our system.
7. What are some of the distinctive features of Exein services that differentiate it from its competitors?
Exein automates a lot of manual work that usually developers would carry out when they create their IoT. The most differentiating thing is our approach; we embed the security directly inside the system and we don’t rely on the network security. We allow devices to be secure on their own.
8. What are some of the unique lessons you have learnt from your customers as the CEO at Exein?
Due to various constraints, people don’t have enough time to learn everything, so we do our best to take a complex task and make it simple and easy to use.
You may think for most of the market if you offer a no-code solution for developers it doesn’t make sense – because developers like to code. But people are busy, so while we give the option to manually include this, we also offer our customers a no-code solution.
9. Can you give us a sneak peek into some of the upcoming product upgrades that your customers can look forward to?
Now that Exein works perfectly on a Linux embedded system, we’re now finishing another framework approach for LQS and developmental framework. We will support real time operating systems, with a completely different product that we will release in the New Year. We’re also integrating Exein with Amazon Lambda in order to allow those developers already using Lambda and Amazon Greengrass to have Exein, without the need to change the operative environment they use.
10. How do you keep up with the rapidly developing technology domain?
We are constantly working on our approach and conducting customer research. We are on the edge of the development industry, therefore it is essential to maintain this security edge, to see what others do and what is happening in the market. Our team takes a two-pronged approach; the innovation team introduces new features and the other part of the team stabilizes that
11. Which is the one Cyber Security breakthrough you will be on the lookout for in the upcoming year?
5g. It enables Exein to run in Cloud and on even smaller devices. The spread of 5g will allow us to constantly develop security directly on the network.
12. What advice would you like to give to the upcoming Edge Security tech start-ups?
To think outside of the box.
You see many companies trying to recreate the same thing, with less optimization and so on. I think in order to be successful; a company should focus on its niche, and becoming the leader of that niche. From there they can expand and cover other aspects of the market.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it exists already; rather make a different kind of wheel, more stable, easier to use etc.
13. What is the one leadership motto you live by?
We are born to innovate, research and be different every day. Our motto is to be different and do it differently.
Gianni Cuozzo was born in Darmstadt Germany in 1990 into an Italian family originating from Valva (SA) in southern Italy. He specialized early on in the issues concerning the development of advanced technologies and Forecasting models for geopolitical events, coordinating the development of different plug-in for the “R” language. In 2014 he founded in Malmö Prism Warfare, a company working in the development of computer weaponry. In that period Cuozzo was active in major contemporary symmetrical conflict areas. In May 2016 he founded in Italy Aspisec, a specialized company in the field of cyber security consulting with a strong specialization in the firmware security. Cuozzo has collaborated with several NATO countries in the writing of military doctrines about the use of cyber weapons and for the use of new doctrines of military computer intelligence. He was a speaker at the United Nations in Geneva on some issues relating to firmware security and he is the author of scientific papers published by NATO & IEEE.