With many thanks to Yoav Keren, CEO of Brandshield, Aviva Zacks of Safety Detectives had the opportunity to ask about his company’s unique platform.
Safety Detectives: How did you get involved in cybersecurity and what do you love about it?
Yoav Keren: When I was 10 years old, I was in a special coding program at Tel Aviv University and continued through my teens. Then, in my early 20s, I developed a passion for computer science. I was the first student at Tel Aviv University to graduate with degrees in physics and economics while studying computer science. At that point, I decided to focus on the business side of the industry, instead of the programming side.
I’ve carried this early passion with me throughout my entire career and love the idea of using technology to help solve complicated problems. Being able to apply my expertise in hunting cybercriminals and taking them down is extremely satisfying and I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside some of the world’s biggest companies in an effort to protect their consumers from becoming victims and making the world a safer place.
SD: How did you start BrandShield?
I’ve been in the domain, intellectual property, and anti-counterfeiting space for more than 20 years. Yuval Zantkeren, David Fridman, and I started DomainTheNet.com in 2000, and it’s currently the largest domain registrar in Israel. After gaining expertise in this space, we recognized that cybercriminals pose a major threat and started to think about creating new solutions to tackle the growing problem and increasing threats from scams, fraud, counterfeits, and phishing attacks.
It was there that the idea for BrandShield came about and given our proprietary data and experience in the domain space, we had a massive head start in helping businesses track and remove fraudulent sites. It became obvious there was an immediate need for a comprehensive solution like BrandShield and one didn’t exist, so we built the company to bridge the gap between full cybersecurity protection and other industry point-based solutions.
SD: What is Brandshield’s flagship product?
YK: We provide a comprehensive platform from brand protection to online threat hunting, providing the detection and removal of fraudulent sites and online posts. We developed a cybersecurity technology that detects threats external to the organization, outside the firewall. After we detect them, we can take them down in a few hours.
Unlike many other cybersecurity companies, that focus on internal threats to the organization—threats on the organization’s servers, endpoints, and cloud—the threats we deal with are outside the perimeter of the organization. They happen on someone else’s servers, on social media, on phishing domains, and on websites. Chief information security officers (CISOs) not only don’t have a way of detecting those threats, but they are at a loss about how to take them down. This is exactly what we help them with.
SD: What verticals would be interested in your company’s services?
YK: We provide our solution to a variety of companies. We have a growing international blue-chip client base including Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies. Our clients come from a variety of industries—from financial to pharmaceuticals, fashion, software, consumer products, as well as sports and entertainment. We work with reputable name brands like Visa, Bristol Myer Squibb, Levis, New Balance, Swisscom, KTM Motorcycles, and many others.
We also recently signed an agreement with the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI), which is a not-for-profit membership organization for major pharmaceutical companies. We protect them against different types of phishing, fraud, counterfeit online and part of this work is focused on identifying vaccine-related fraud, which has been rampant ever since news of the vaccine broke earlier in the year.
SD: How does your company stay ahead of the competition?
YK: Our proprietary AI and machine-learning technology offers an unmatched combination of automation and takedown capabilities. Unlike other providers, we’re unique in being the only end-to-end platform that provides a way to manage all enforcement activities from a centralized dashboard in real-time. This makes us widely applicable and effective across a range of security threats including phishing, fraud, executive impersonation, counterfeits, trademark infringement, and more.
Our AI+ML saves time by prioritizing threats with greater accuracy as the size of our network grows and it’s not possible to scale a cyber threat solution that relies on analysts to address the current exponential growth of cyber threats. We are very well-positioned in the market due to our ability to scale robust proprietary data sources, in-depth fraud detection, AI-powered prioritization, and effective hunting and takedown expertise.
SD: What would you say are the worse cyberthreats out there today?
YK: There are many types of cyberthreats out there. The ones that we deal with most often come from phishing scams, social phishing scams, fake products, and other types of impersonations. The biggest trend we are seeing today is fraud around COVID-19 vaccines.
Consumers are desperate to get the vaccine, and cybercriminals are exploiting that vulnerability to profit off these people. We’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic a huge increase in online fraud using impersonations, social phishing, and counterfeits. As an example, during the first month of the vaccine, we found a 2,100% increase in domain registrations using the word ‘vaccine’, and fraudsters were turning to social platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to trick people into buying fake or non-existent products.
SD: How do you think that the pandemic is going to change cybersecurity for the future as well?
YK: At the end of the second quarter of 2019, US e-commerce represented 14 percent of total commerce─and that’s after almost 25 years of the internet. At the end of the second quarter of 2020─after three months of lockdowns and a pandemic─it passed 20 percent. So, it took 25 years to represent 14 percent and a few months to reach 20 percent. I think that’s an amazing change.
The truth is the pandemic accelerated a digital transformation shift that was already underway. Any change in online behavior is, of course, going to lure cybercriminals to increase their activities. E-commerce is not going away and, unfortunately, cyberthreats are not going to disappear either. They are growing exponentially and that’s why it’s becoming more and more critical for companies and consumers to stay vigilant and protect against these bad actors looking to do them harm.