Startup envisions CISO collective to share cyberattack information

A startup called SecurityStarfish intends to become the central point where chief information security officers (CISO) can discretely share information about cyberattacks and obtain anonymized real-time information from others in order to deter cybercrime against their organizations.

This ambitious effort is being led by one of the most influential security professionals in the industry, Dave Cullinane, former CISO at eBay and a founding member and chairman of the Cloud Security Alliance, the group working on security best practices and standards related to cloud-based services.

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"We want to share information about attacks and alert others," says Cullinane, CEO and co-founder of SecurityStarfish, about the venture's goals. He says enterprises today need "actionable intelligence" that can "return the balance of power" to the enterprise security team, which is hard-pressed to fend off continuous onslaughts aimed at stealing data or crippling networks.

The goal is getting a large group of CISOs from the enterprise in various vertical industries on board -- at this point security vendors are not invited to join -- so that information related to cyberattacks can be discretely collected and share anonymously among the group's members.

Cullinane says he anticipates about four dozen CISOs to join in the near future. The annual SecurityStarfish subscription service is said to be $60,000 per year.

There is nothing in security today that is striving to do what SecurityStarfish has in mind, Cullinane says. He says he tried this information-sharing idea once in the past when he was a CISO in a more "volunteer" style with his CISO colleagues. But this information-sharing had a hard time keeping rolling due to various questions everyone would get from internal corporate management of all stripes. However, Cullinane is confident that the structure of "guaranteed anonymity" adopted at SecurityStarfish is going to gain approval and support. There's also the "trust issue," and Cullinane's lengthy experience in security at eBay, and prior to that in the banking world, grants the startup credibility.

Cullinane, who left his job as CISO at eBay last May to found SecurityStarfish, says the CISO wants to have real-time information about cyberattacks that colleagues are coping with so that they, too, can be prepared and aware. "We're going to have sophisticated analysis of the attacks, that's part of what our interest is," he adds.

Headquartered in Livermore, Calif., SecurityStarfish is "self-funded" by its co-founders, including Gordon Shevlin, the start-up's executive vice president and chief operating officer. He also co-founded SiegeWorks, and was executive vice president at FishNet Security. The startup is said to have five employees at present.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: @MessmerE. Email:

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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