“You’re trying to squeeze and get more out of every investment that you make” - Battling the 2024 squeeze with Lacework CEO Jay Parikh

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The business environment has evolved rapidly in the past couple of decades, from that of the first whisperings of the cloud to the towering cumulus we know today.

As businesses have shifted their operations from on-prem, through hybrid and onto fully cloud based environments, the threats have evolved with them - and this is a journey that former Facebook VP of engineering turned cloud security CEO, Jay Parikh, has been traveling for some time.

Balancing data and security alongside business priorities while navigating the cloud transformation is no easy feat, and Parikh saw an opportunity to help businesses grow through the journey with Lacework.

Breaking free of the rules

“I need something that gives me a holistic view over the whole cloud infrastructure; identity; code; configuration; multi cloud; vulnerabilities; threats,” Parikh tells me. “Everything is packaged into one platform, and that's what we have been focused on building.”

When Lacework was first founded almost a decade ago, the cloud environment that Parikh was dealing with was far different from the way we know it today. Cloud was just taking off, and security teams were having to deal with a rapidly evolving threat environment.

“On-prem you could set up your perimeter, you could collect some logs, you could have a team writing some rules,” he explains. “None of that would work on the cloud and it can’t keep up.”

The graduation to cloud for many businesses became a necessity in order to remain competitive and viable, and as businesses grew so too did the number of potential points of intrusion that companies had to monitor.

“You’re pushing code all the time, applications, you’re collecting a lot of different data, you’re serving lots of different types of people. So just from an overall complexity perspective, it's way bigger, way harder, way different than the way you did it on-prem.”

According to Parikh, as companies adjusted to the cloud environment, writing rules to manage access became a situation of “too little, too late” and a fundamentally different approach to cloud security was needed.


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Driven by data

The answer that Lacework identified, and in hindsight seems rather obvious, was data. Rather than fighting the losing battle of detecting threats at the perimeter, you could monitor the data flowing through a business environment and identify any abnormalities, isolate them, and prevent them from spreading.

Parikh explains that at the heart of the problem was building “the infrastructure and the technology to collect all this data, to help organize it, understand it, apply our AI machine learning heuristics and models on it, to be able to understand what that baseline normal behavior is.”

But as Lacework expanded to cater to enterprise level customers, so too did the platform’s capacity to handle the data driven approach. Parikh points out that navigating the security priorities of the cloud transformation has created a “holistic end-to-end platform” for cloud security.


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Building on the CISO experience

As the threat landscape continues to grow and shift in unpredictable directions and budgets are squeezed, CISOs are being asked to do more with less, which requires frontline teams to focus on their efficiency.

Lacework has therefore, according to Parikh, focused on, “knowing what is important to them today but also aligning and understanding what they are being asked to do, or what they are involved with from a board perspective, the rest of the business perspective.

“Some of them are dealing with acquisitions, some of them are dealing with new regulatory environments, some of them are dealing with business-push on gen-AI,” he adds, “so how are they adapting their workflows, their people, their teams, their technology?”

As someone with perspective on the executive level, Parikh understands that the view from the boardroom can be vastly different from the view at the frontline. In order to communicate the situation and priorities up the chain, he believes that one thing can cut through the fog. 

“Data. The right data.”

Having an objective view of the threats and risks posed to the business through KPIs and data insights can provide context to the subjectivity and color of the priorities in the boardroom. By providing a baseline metric of performance, CISOs can help those at the top ask the right questions.

“Are you getting better, are you getting worse, are you keeping up, are you keeping ahead or are you falling behind? Because that will drive the prioritization discussion with the CEO or with the board about investment.”

The hard work of collecting said KPIs and data is not something that security teams have the time or hours to do. So by using a holistic platform, security teams can “bring lots of different disparate types of data from your cloud infrastructure; identity data; configuration data; vulnerability data; workload data; third-party data.

“And then being able to pull it all into one system, organize it, be able to cross-correlate it across these different things, model it, and then building that baseline of what ‘normal’ is versus what ‘abnormal’ is in a per-customer environment - that's where our modeling, ML, AI, IP has been from almost day one.”


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The small business in a big world

In the years since the start of COVID pandemic, the prospects of growth for many SMB have been turbulent, and in many cases have not improved. Operational costs, ransomware attacks and data theft have spelled doom for many businesses who’s budgeting didn’t account for security.

Parikh understands the struggles that SMBs face, particularly in regard to finding the best protection to value ratio when browsing for tools to help with cloud defense. “Instead of buying two things, five things, eight things, look for consolidation, look for platforms,” he says.

“You can evaluate different platforms such as Lacework, you don’t need to consume all of the capabilities from day one.” 

One of the main struggles that SMBs face is their ability to remain compliant, Parikh argues, because the main thing many customers seek is robust compliance. He says that businesses with multiple tools across multiple vendors have to spend long hours manually ensuring that compliance is maintained while using so many different tools.

This is especially true of businesses using more than one cloud service provider (CSP), where without a consolidated platform it is nearly impossible to have a single unified view over an entire network.

Each CSP has their own tools that require a separate tool to integrate each cloud into a single viewpoint, which costs time and money, “whereas with Lacework we can do all that heavy lifting for you.”

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Benedict is mainly focused on security issues such as phishing, malware, and cyber criminal activity, but also likes to draw on his knowledge of geopolitics and international relations to understand the motivations and consequences of state-sponsored cyber attacks. Benedict has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham.