Falanx Group Ltd (LON:FLX) Chief Executive Officer Stuart Bladen caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the launch of their new product, MidGARD
Q1: First off, congratulations on the launch of MidGARD today, could you explain a little bit more about the product?
A1: Technically, MidGARD is a stream-based telemetry enrichment engine for near-realtime identification of cyber threats with multiple client instances, all networked together, to form a hive mind for data analytics, shared intelligence and machine learning. In short, it’s a cyber security botnet for the good guys. I suspect for your listeners, I guess the real question is what does all that do for customers and investors and I guess I would boil that down to money, technology and differentiation.
So firstly, on money, MidGARD is intended to be much cheaper and easier than current competing offers and now that’s really for 3 reasons:
1) MidGARD is faster to deploy, all we have to do is install MidGARD collectors inside a client, everything else is already set up in a scalable data centre and that saves 3-6 months in building a SOC and getting software configured.
2) Most of MidGARD costs are shared, most of the components in MidGARD are central as is our expert team and those are shared across many clients. That’s a big benefit when you often need a minimum of a dozen people even for a small SOC.
3) You only pay for what you use, you don’t build capacity with MidGARD, it’s just a monthly charge and it’s easy to turn up or down according to your business needs.
Add all that together and it’s an affordability breakthrough, a full SOC is pretty unaffordable for many and what MidGARD does is bring enterprise class cyber defence to everyone, that’s our mission.
Secondly, on the technology, I’d pick up two things that I think are unique:
1) We built MidGARD on all the latest open source technology, we didn’t worry about building elastic databases, interfaces, analytics, machine learning, ChatOPS etc., we didn’t even have to build a security information event system. People will pay millions for all of those but you get all that for free with MidGARD. The clever bit is about how you integrate them and how you design the security process, not in reinventing available code.
2) The other thing that I would pick up as being really unique about MidGARD is the hive mind. So, most companies stand alone on cyber, you have a SOC, you deal with the threat and that’s it, with MidGARD you actually get to learn from many many other people as well. If one client spots a problem, the MidGARD team can quickly fix the problem for everyone in the network and that makes everybody safer together than apart.
I guess that I’d say it’s taken really clever innovative people to bring MidGARD together but it does have real technology benefits, it has cost savings and it delivers both the latest technology and this hive mind concept. That’s all about the customer, I’ve said quite a bit about why MidGARD is different from their perspective, about the technical stuff and the client value.
What does it mean for the investor? With MidGARD, we do have a first-mover advantage, we don’t believe there’s anything out there quite like MidGARD. Could someone else build one? Yes, in time, but it’s going to take them a long time and a highly-skilled development team and working really really tightly with an operational SOC.
So, we have a period where we stand alone and we need to make good use of that, that’s in the short run. In the long run, it’s really the hive mind that matters, that makes a difference because the more clients you have in the hive, the better MidGARD gets and the harder it is for anyone to catch up with us. It’s really a simple question, would you rather join a security club of 200 or 2000 or would you rather learn from 20 and, of course, the answer is that more is better and that’s really why we’re quite focussed on a rapid launch for MidGARD.
Q2: Stuart, why should companies not currently set up to monitor the threat of a cyber-attack consider a product such as MidGARD?
A2: In one sense because they have to, by May 2018 they must comply with the new law, GDPR, and they must be monitoring and reporting cyber incidents. I think more generally, the other thing about MidGARD is because it’s designed as an ecosystem rather than a product, it’s actually quite flexible so if you’re not set up currently to monitor cyber threats, MidGARD gets you there very quickly and we simple do it all for you. If you already have a SOC, well then MidGARD can reduce its cost, it can bring the latest technology. You can, if you want to, do the operations yourself in the MidGARD portal and some people will want to retain that control whilst still benefiting from the hive mind. The third option is a hybrid mode, some clients want to operate 9-5 and have us do out of hours, clients have one shift of staff and we cover the others, some clients also want a back-up SOC and it’s far cheaper to leverage Falanx Group than it is to build a second SOC and that’s another key advantage, if you like, for MidGARD.
So, it’s not just companies who are not currently set up to monitor, there are actually many existing companies with SOC operations who’ll also find MidGARD a pretty compelling proposition. That’s important because, bluntly, right now that of course is where all the existing budgets are.
Q3: How do Falanx Group intend on targeting new customers for the service?
A3: Now, I’ve already said, we need to move really quickly, we need to build that hive mind, it’s a key differentiator so we want as much effort on sales as possible and as fast as possible. To do that, we’ve built a direct sales team of our own, we’ve been building that since February, we’re having a social media campaign and we’ve just launched our 44CON conference. We also have a group of strong partners to help us including one that helped us pilot MidGARD and they include CDW, Sentronex and Nasstar and we will be announcing some more partners too so, please make sure that you look out for that.
Q4: What is the significance of this launch for Falanx Group?
A4: Good question. MidGARD is not the only thing that we do, we do ethical hacking, we do security advice, we do instant response and we also do a great line in political threat analysis, that’s our Assynt team. MidGARD, however, is unique and it’s a major opportunity and it is the number one thing for us this year.