Start-up Threat Stack aims to protect Linux-based clouds from hackers

Start-up Threat Stack says it's making its hacker-detection for the cloud software available for controlled beta testing this week, with general availability expected before the end of the year.

Threat Stack's Cloud Sight is intended to give enterprises a way to be alerted if hackers are breaking into Linux-based servers that they may use in their cloud services. The Cloud Sight agent software for Linux monitors process activity, sends an alert if a break-in by hackers is underway, and can provide forensics about incidents, according to CEO Dustin Webber, who co-founded the firm with Jennifer Andre.

Cloud Sight security aims to "detect hackers, not artifacts," says Webber. "We look for behavior of the hacker."

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The Cloud Sight agent software can be used by the enterprise customer in any cloud environment where the customer can obtain administrative control over the Linux servers in use. There is also potentially a use for Cloud Sight by cloud service providers as well. But the initial focus is monitoring by the enterprise, says Webber. The closest competition to what Threat Stack is trying to do comes from CloudPassage today, he adds.

There is a challenge in ensuring any threat-detection system isn't noisy' and sending out false positives, Webber acknowledges. But he points out there's a clear need to give enterprises a way to detect hackers going after their data held in the cloud and it's possible to monitor for certain processes that attackers have often taken when breaking in and to re-construct those session events, if necessary.

Threat Stack was founded in Cambridge, Mass., in November 2012 and has obtained $1.2 million in funding from Atlas Venture and .406 Ventures. Webber's background includes open-source development of Snorby, the visualization and workflow tool that can be used with the open-source Snort and Siricata intrusion-detection systems. Snorby ownership has been transferred to Threat Stack but Webber notes that Cloud Sight is not envisioned as an open-source project.

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. E-mail:

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