Fortress looks to bring cybersecurity to the residential market

Company will be entering trials this year and eventually seeking channel partners
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla.—Fortress Cyber Security seeks to bring cybersecurity into the residential market through its new device, the Fortress UTM—or Unified Threat Management.

The Fortress UTM “Brings cybersecurity, monitoring, [network] intrusion detection, firewall and other capabilities that are usual at the enterprise level to the household and the consumer,” Peter Kassabov, co-founder and chairman of sister company Fortress Information Security, told Security Systems News.

The appliance takes the place of a traditional Wi-Fi router, integrates with other Wi-Fi devices, allows for bandwidth management and monitors connectivity between Internet of Things devices.

“We see two potential areas where cybersecurity really cross-connects with physical security. On one side … everything is right now on the Internet and everything is exposed,” Kassabov said. “All the physical security infrastructure runs over the public internet or … an IP network. So, there is definitely an enormous amount of vulnerability.”

Awareness of cyberthreats is increasing, according to Kassabov. “Companies are becoming very, very alert and scared about the [possibility] that their physical security can be compromised from far away,” he said.

Kassabov continued, “Our solutions can provide external monitoring of the vulnerabilities of these physical security installations or physical security control centers. Then, the other part is we can … help them to monitor the devices that they employ and make sure they are not vulnerable.”

Consumers are vulnerable in ways very similar to commercial facilities, Kassabov noted. “Our houses are becoming mini-networks and right now, many of the components in [a] house actually provide the physical security,” he said.

Kassabov said that the company “definitely” sees a convergence of physical and cybersecurity in the home. He added that this convergence is the reason Fortress spun-off a division of its business in September 2016, Fortress Cyber Security, which is focused on the consumer market. Fortress Information Security is the company’s primary business, focused on B2B and commercial entities.

“We leveraged some of the technologies that we developed to secure large corporate enterprises and we also developed a proprietary appliance that we introduced at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, and then [in early April] we introduced it at ISC West.”

The company is also working on integrating cybersecurity with home security, Kassabov said. “As part of this solution, we are working right now with some home security providers to actually bundle together the home security and the cybersecurity systems into a solution that runs under the touchscreen that we have on the device.”

Fortress said, in its announcement of the UTM, that it looks to provide “total life security”; the device also has the ability to integrate with credit monitoring and identity monitoring providers, Kassabov noted.

“We envision to do a … very closed pilot in June, then do a broader pilot toward Q3 or Q4 of this year,” said Kassabov. “We are not looking to sell our solution through the retail channels, so we are look for—definitely—channel partners … to actually push this to the market.”

The company is starting out looking at the high end of the retail market “which is much more concerned about their cybersecurity. The high end of the market is also used to operating in a secure environment; these are either professionals [or] executives that work from home, so they are used to having a high level of cybersecurity precaution in the workplace,” Kassabov said. “Our focus is on the high-end of the market that has something to worry about or is a target.”

The system has capabilities and features that Kassabov predicts the company could take out to “value engineer” the Fortress UTM for a wider market.

Fortress was a first time exhibitor at this year’s ISC West. “At the ISC West show specifically, we were quite surprised, initially, at the number of physical security companies who were approaching us and indicating that they were looking to converge the physical- and cybersecurity capabilities into one platform,” Juliet Okafor, Fortress Information Security’s VP of global business development, told SSN.

Fortress currently has between 50 and 60 employees and is growing, Okafor noted. Fortress is headquartered in Orlando, Fla., with additional offices in Washington, D.C., and Boise, Idaho, and is also setting up a new office in Columbus, Ohio.