Interview With Dr. Oren Eytan – odix

Interview With Dr. Oren Eytan – odix
Aviva Zacks
Posted: July 19, 2019

When Safety Detective’s Aviva Zacks got in touch with odix’s founder Dr. Oren Eytan, she learned how his company “odix”es files to keep companies safe.

Safety Detective: Tell me how you got started in the cybersecurity industry.

Dr. Oren Eytan: I have been involved in cybersecurity for 30 years as a commander, and now retired colonel, of the cybersecurity unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). I founded Operations and Data Integrity (ODI) with my partner David Geva, who is also a retired colonel and was the commander of the Cyber Academy of the IDF. It started as a service company about 10 years ago, and about 5 years ago, I realized that there’s a need for a new cybersecurity tool against emerging threats. We recently split the company and my partner David now manages the new company called ODIL systems and I manage odix, which focuses on the file sanitization product suite that we developed.

SD: Tell me about odix.

OE: When we started to spread our product and technology approach, we came with a very out-of-the-box new concept. Antiviruses and other tools are usually not proactive and effective in certain scenarios. The life cycle of virus is that first there is a new virus that spreads within the network, then it is detected as users got attacked. Then the antivirus vendors release a new release that includes support to that new virus. The bad thing about this process is that the new virus can be spread to many users by the time it will be identified because this is a reactive approach. Our idea is a proactive approach. We would like to make sure that you get a clean file. This process is called Content Disarm and Reconstruction (CDR).

SD: What’s CDR?

OE: It’s a term that was determined by Gartner, who started to talk about it a few years ago when they looked at the recent technology that protects the organization from a suspicious malware in files. This is not like antiviruses that look at signatures but takes the file and manipulates it in order to disarm any malware in the file. We say we are “odix-ing” the file, like we are sanitizing it for you and providing you a malware-free file.

SD: Tell me about odix’s various solutions.

OE: The core technology takes the file, launders it, disarms any malware from it, and provides a malware-free copy to the users. In one sentence, that’s the technology. Of course, it’s complex because there is a special algorithm for every type of file, and we ensure that the algorithm works so well that it provides you the copy which is identical from a functionality perspective to you as a user. If it’s a Word file, you will get Word file. If it’s an Excel file, you’ll get an Excel file, and there is no corruption of the formulas.

We took this technology and wrapped it throughout several products. We have two product lines that target enterprises and businesses, and the different products enable us to sanitize files from multiple channels that the files arrive from. It could be either an add-on to the email or as a folder that sanitizes files in transit; for example, from websites where people upload files with different information, like CVs of candidates or people who have sued insurance companies. If you have a file with portable media, we have a special solution for that; we call it the odix Kiosk and you can sanitize the USB drive.

SD: What industries do you serve?

OE: We are very popular in the Industrial Control System (ICS) industry, which includes energy and electricity companies where the operation network is so critical and sensitive that they need to sanitize every file that enters the operation network. We are focusing on this segment in the US, and this includes all the utility companies and manufacturing companies. In particular, the energy sector is regulated by the North American Energy Regulation Association (NERC). The NERC CIP is the NERC critical infrastructure protection standards. Companies under the NERC are obligated to adopt the CIP recommendation and regulation, our solution really fits their needs as it meets those standards.

Recently, Duke Energy was fined $10 million due to not complying with the NERC regulation. This was the first time such a huge fine was levied on a company that didn’t comply with the cybersecurity regulation of the NERC.

SD: What do you feel is the worst type of cyberthreat to companies and to individuals today?

OE: The worst cyberthreat is the one that will cause the most substantial damage to organizations; for example, ransomware and what we call sophisticated cyberattacks. These attacks are planned for a very long time on a specific target and are targeted. The motivation can be either to get money or data, destroy something, or collect intelligence, each attack is different.

What I have seen during my 30+ years with cybersecurity in the IDF and in the industry was that in order to execute these attacks, hackers need to find a hidden platform to insert the malware into the organization. It can be office files, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, PDF, an image, and so on. So, we found out that in order to penetrate an organization, one of the most popular platforms is the files payload because it’s very large and can hide a small piece of malware inside. And this is exactly what are we target.

SD: How do you see cyber security developing in the next five years?

OE: There are a lot of cybersecurity startups that have niche solutions, but I certainly see a kind of consolidation of cybertools. The large players—Symantec, McAfee, Check Point—will integrate more and more solutions in order to have a very wide coverage for the emerging threats.