enterprisesecuritymag

Cryptomove: Decentralization and Moving Target Defense

Mike Burshteyn, Founder & CEO, CryptoMoveMike Burshteyn, Founder & CEO During the medieval period, every castle had archers positioned atop its walls as defenders at various strategic locations. As a result, it would take tens of attackers to successfully overtake a single defender—a feat that wasn’t always guaranteed. The defender, in such a scenario, had a significant asymmetric advantage over the attacker. Even in the twentieth-century wars, a machine gunner stationed in a trench had the ability to single-handedly fend off a large number of opponents. On the contrary, today’s conflicts portray an altogether different picture, involving instances of a single attacker—armed with powerful weapons—inflicting huge damage on defenders of greater magnitude. This kind of a reversed asymmetric advantage that attackers have over defenders today is among the most serious challenges facing the near future of the digital world.

If attackers are given enough time to study the computing and web infrastructure—no matter how complex it is—they will always find a way in. To prevent these malicious attackers from breaking into the protected environments, organizations generally focus on various defensive tactics including perimeter defenses, proactive detection, and more. However, most organizations fail to deal with the fundamental asymmetry of the attacker’s advantage. No data can be considered entirely safe until this asymmetric advantage is eliminated. Consider the example where HBO incurred heavy losses when multiple episodes of the popular TV show Game of Thrones got leaked in the summer of 2016. How can such major data breaches be avoided? What is the way ahead for organizations to fully protect their data against hackers?

CryptoMove, an emerging security company run by a father-son duo has an answer to all of these problems including the fundamental asymmetry. CryptoMove’s leadership team is of the opinion that data encryption is not the ultimate step in data security. Instead of simply encrypting, monitoring, or recording data, if organizations could break their data into chunks and continuously move it around, it would enhance data security to a great extent. The idea at the core of CryptoMove’s approach is that in order to prevent the crown jewels from being stolen, they shouldn’t be kept together and stationary.

Moving them continually in addition to scrambling and re-scrambling them constantly in a manner that they are never stable or at rest will not only create an additional obstacle for attackers but also flip the asymmetric advantage to defenders’ side.

CryptoMove’s approach is that in order to prevent the crown jewels from being stolen, they shouldn’t be kept together and stationary


With such a moving defense system, attackers will find it extremely difficult to figure out how to approach the target.

Conceptualization of an Active Defense Approach

CryptoMove’s fascinating origin story can be traced back to when Boris Burshteyn, founder and CTO of the company, was working on creating a new type of distributed programming model. With his experience as an engineer at Oracle and Cisco, Boris devised a strategy to overcome the incredibly tricky challenge of continually moving and mutating distributed and encrypted data to constantly keep the target in a state of high entropy. Boris introduced this idea to his son, Mike, who was then working as an attorney, counseling tech giants including Amazon and Google on how to tackle cybercrimes and data breaches. Once Mike identified the market potential of his father’s idea, CryptoMove was born.

“There is a long history of companies doing data fragmentation, but nobody is continuously moving fragmented data as we are,” remarks Mike Burshteyn, founder and CEO of CryptoMove. After breaking up data into tiny pieces, CryptoMove’s system places it into containers that resemble rows of virtual vaults. Each of these vaults contains a distinct piece of the data puzzle, and the system ensures that these vaults are in motion at all times. Even if hackers get hold of one of these pieces, it would be worthless without the other data chunks, which is one of the most substantial advantages of CryptoMove’s “active defense” approach.

Tholos Key Vault

CryptoMove provides the world’s first moving target data protection platform—Tholos—which protects application programming interface (API) keys, configurations, and several other app secrets with decentralization and moving target defense. With a rapid increase in the number of cloud apps and IoT devices, key management has become a challenging task. Tholos’ intuitive platform simplifies as well as makes the management of an organization’s keys and secrets more effective. The company first fragments, encrypts, and mutates the keys, then moves and re-encrypts these fragments continuously in the clouds across CryptoMove nodes, and eventually recovers the fragments on clients’ authorization using a decentralized ledger. In case a client needs to consolidate their data again, CryptoMove ensures safe restoration by making copies of the data pieces, so should one node fail, the data can still be fully recovered.

The moving target data protection platform works seamlessly with an organization’s existing storage architecture and also uses their existing encryption algorithms, thus ensuring easy deployment. Organizations storing data on their own servers can link them up with the platform straightaway, while for those using a public cloud infrastructure CryptoMove provides APIs and integrations with Box, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft Azure. Although the company doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with regard to storage infrastructure, the moving target defense strategy is a novel concept.

"The moving target data protection platform works seamlessly with an organization’s existing storage architecture and also uses their existing encryption algorithms, thus ensuring easy deployment"

With an ability to dynamically shift as well as morph an organization’s infrastructure that includes data, networks, application layers, and more, as and when required, moving target defense (MTD) can be perceived as a game-changer in the data security space. This gives organizations’ data security an added strength in comparison to the static nature of current computing systems, thus increasing an attacker’s workload and tilting the playing field in the defenders’ favor. “This moving target defense concept is a result of an extensive academic and military-level research. In fact, one of our clients is the US Department of Homeland Security,” states Mike Burshteyn. The federal department leverages CryptoMove’s platform to distribute data across its various drones, thus ensuring that data can be recovered safely and entirely in case of any drone crashes.

Self-healing Infrastructure and Other Benefits

One of the biggest advantages of CryptoMove is that it is a self-healing infrastructure, facilitating the use of multiple nodes across multiple regions or even cloud vendors. In case a node goes offline or gets re-encrypted by a ransomware attack, CryptoMove’s platform features the capability to re-duplicate and recover the data. Furthermore, CryptoMove’s moving target data protection platform is fast enough to encrypt an entire video and integrate it with live streams. The platform which is a cloud-based key vault as a service and also CryptoMove’s flagship product has helped the company secure contracts with several big and notable clients including the French bank, BNP Paribas.

CryptoMove’s advanced and unique technology has the potential to totally change the way cybersecurity is perceived and acted upon in the market. Founded in 2015, the company is growing its business at a gradual pace and now looks forward to testing whether its advanced defense approach works effectively at scale. “I believe it will take time to prove the ability of our approach to handling enormous workloads along with enlarging to accommodate the growth. But once it happens, it could even start an active defense trend all over the world,” claims Mike. CryptoMove’s investors, along with the founders, are surely hoping that’s the case.
- Mithil Vartak
    December 11, 2018