A rather short venture for Taher results in some very impressive results. Here he details the sale of Securify.
SM: You are saying you have an expert system which knows what behavior patterns are are allowed, and if the patterns match those heuristics it is OK? TE: I don’t like the word expert system because everybody understands it differently, it is an overloaded word. Technically it is a whole separate system.
SM: It is a rule based system? TE: That is a more correct term.
SM: Taher are you familiar with what Sygate was doing? TE: Ofcourse. The issue with a lot of projects like this is that they look at behaviors on one machine at a time rather than look at the interaction between multiple machines. When you look one machine at a time you identify what they are; a web server talks to machine xyz, is that good or bad? The schema we were devising at the time says that if these two entities talk to each other the wrong way, stop it. That is a lot more powerful because it is not reactive. If you look at it one machine at a time you are seeing a very small subset, rather than a list of connected machines which lets you see the connection of machines. Sygate is one of the companies that is policy driven, but they just do it on a machine by machine basis.
SM: How big did Securify become, and what was the outcome? TE: The company started in early 1998, and in June 1998 I finally left Netscape. We raised some venture money, 1998 was a good year for that. We raised $4.5M to build the product in June of ’98. The valuation of the firm was about $12M. We ended up selling Securify on December 31st, 1998 for $65M to Kroll O’Gara.
SM: In five months? TE: 1998 was a good year. I ended up running something called the information security group inside Kroll. The rest of the company was doing all kinds of fraud detection and security in the physical world, and I was running the electronic version of that. I stayed there for a year and a half and then determined that running a consulting business in the middle of a big public company was not the right thing to do for the rest of my life. I convinced them to spin me back off, so the consulting business stayed at Kroll for the most part, but we took the product piece of the business back to Securify and it exists today.