comodo

Like many of you nerdy parents reading this, I too respected that modern rite of passage for my kids: That is, I took them on a slow procession along Route 101 in Silicon Valley in the hopes of igniting some latent entrepreneurial flame. If you haven't taken your budding tech founders there yet, I recommend it - much as a hoops coach would suggest taking the kids to see Steph Curry, in the hopes that maybe they'll start practicing their darn shooting.

I mention this because on my trek each day along one of the world's worst highways for traffic - Route 3 in New Jersey - I glance up at a company building that looms as maybe the only major cyber security-related advertisement on my morning drive: Comodo. There under the clouds of Clifton is their building, reminding me that not every cyber solution is thunk on the West Coast and dumped on the East Coast. At least one company thinks here.

Comodo made some news recently by selling their CA business to Francisco Partners, a private equity firm that is located, ironically and inevitably, a long rock's toss from Route 101. Comodo made even more interesting news recently by hiring well-known tech veteran Steve Subar as its new CEO and President. I'd maintained various connections and interactions with Steve over the years, so I was excited when he invited me to pull off Route 3 for a visit.

The first thing that hit me when I sat down with Steve in his office was that Comodo's Jersey headquarters gave off that infectious look and feel of a bustling tech start-up. As we made our way around the facility, I could literally feel the demos being given, orders being taken, discussions being had, calls being made, designs being scribbled on white boards, and on and on. It was nice to see a company in business for decades, acting like one born last week.

"We fully understand that many in the cyber security industry recognize Comodo for its groundbreaking CA solutions," Subar explained, "but we offer a portfolio of enterprise cyber security solutions that will define our new mission in the coming decades. And these solutions are designed to stop malware threats using patented technology that allows us to review files, render a quick verdict, and then make the malware useless."

This sounded interesting, so we made our way over to a modern conference room for a demo and talk with Melih Abdulhayoglu, founder and now Chairman of the company. He started by harkening back to one of the seminal theoretical results in computer science - namely, the undecidability of the halting problem over Turing machines. "This provides an important hint that no program can ever reliably stop malware," he said.

Melih further explained that rather than trying to stop malware, it makes much more sense to try to identify it quickly, and then render its operations useless. The Comodo endpoint solution does this using a process that prevents the types of program operations that make malware so troublesome. This includes stopping malware from exploiting write privileges to hard drives, registries, and common OS interfaces. Without these actions, the malware is impotent.

Melih went on to explain many of the underlying technical features supporting their offering. This included the inevitable machine learning technology, required to render fast verdicts on potential malware (the company offers a four-hour SLA for files sent for review). Melih also explained how containerization is used to deal with identified malware to ensure that no damage can be done while the analysis process proceeds.

I was quite surprised by the existing size, scale, and scope of Comodo's deployed base, which includes a massive list of end-users around the world, more than 85 million endpoints, including some squirrely places like North Korea and Iran. Comodo's Threat Research Labs is apparently taking full advantage of the threat intelligence flows coming from these far-flung groups using their endpoint security product (which includes a free download option).

My time spent with Comodo really made clear how far they've moved from their CA/PKI legacy to a modern cyber security company offering word-class endpoint solutions on par with the best in the business. Subar is still new to the company, just a few months on the job when we spoke. But I think he and the team have built a great environment with strong security technology in a relevant area. This seems like a winning formula to me. 

I recommend you have a look at Comodo's full suite of cyber security offerings. As they focus their evolving strategy under their new CEO, I suspect that they will drive some interesting security technology. And if you are ever - like me - ready to pull-your-hair-out over that incessant bumper-to-bumper traffic on Route 3, then consider pulling off at the Clifton exit to visit the company. I'm sure they will show you a fine time.