Inna Ushakova, AI EdgeLabs CEO and co-founder discusses the fast-growing, wide-reaching edge computing environment and its cybersecurity element in conversation with Pierre Mirlesse, Host of “An Edge Conversation”, and Marc-Elian Bégin (MEB), CEO and co-founder of SixSq.
To kick things off, Pierre Mirlesse greets Inna Ushakova, CEO and co-founder of AI EdgeLabs, and Marc-Elian Bégin, CEO and co-founder of SixSq.
Pierre Mirlesse: We want to talk about security, specifically security at the Edge, and how that plays out in the whole ecosystem, from Edge to Clouds. We have an expert on the subject, Inna. Could you please introduce yourself.
Inna Ushakova: I am the CEO of Scalarr, the company behind AI EdgeLabs, which is an innovative XDR platform with the main goal of securing Edge and connected IoT devices.
I am responsible for the company-wide execution of our mission as well as the product owner for the vision and development of our roadmap. Our company was listed among the top 30 tech startups by Forbes in Ukraine and I was also honored to be nominated for Women Edge of the Year.
I am a mom, Ukrainian, proud daughter to my parents, happily married, and involved in cybersecurity.
Pierre Mirlesse: That’s quite a resume! I understand you are not in Ukraine anymore; you’ve relocated alongside many of your teammates, right?
Inna: Yes, I needed to relocate to the US because of the war and everything that is happening. While it is very sad, these challenging times also highlight the possibilities you have while reevaluating your whole life and value everything that actually matters. I focused on unleashing new opportunities for Scalarr and for our AI EdgeLabs customers, providing the best service possible. We were already a largely distributed, remote team so we were already somewhat prepared to relocate quickly. Most of the team is now in very safe locations with uninterrupted internet access, and we are greatly motivated to not only achieve but overachieve our goals because it’s not just about the business, it’s also about the families depending on our jobs and Ukraine's economy as a whole.
MEB: I’ve witnessed this focus and desire to deliver and make things happen by working together with Inna and her team. It’s actually very impressive to witness from our vantage point being in the comfort of Switzerland, which is where we’re located. Working together has been great and sometimes I even forget that there’s all this crazy madness happening.
Pierre: Could you talk to us about the scale or problem that your company, Scalarr and AI EdgeLabs, solves in terms of security challenges?
Inna: Let me give you a couple of words about AI EdgeLabs to give listeners/readers/watchers an understanding of our product. AI EdgeLabs is an innovative XDR platform where the major goal is to secure Edge and the Internet of Things infrastructures. The platform is a complex, multi-layered cybersecurity solution that covers a wide range of cybersecurity elements such as early signal detection and protection against any threat in real-time by ensuring autonomous incident response and remediation. Other key elements of AI EdgeLabs include asset discovery, malware protection, next-generation firewalling capabilities, and more.
Pierre: When engaging with Scalarr and AI EdgeLabs, what was your thought for finding unique value?
MEB: We had this vision of being Edge-first as opposed to Cloud-first because we realized that Edge is the new frontier in many ways and because that’s where all the richness is since that’s where most of data resides; as such, that’s where it needs to be defended. It made sense for us to look for an app vendor when we created the marketplace and the vendor program that could actually provide us with a solution that we can put in a new line order to scale very rapidly to all the Edge devices that our customers are managing with the platform to have this simple, universal cyber defense strategy for the Edge, independently of industry.
AI EdgeLabs helps clients significantly decrease the number of downtime and system outages as well as avoid data leaks by introducing automation to cybersecurity.
Pierre: Inna, could you give us an example of a real-life use case of an existing customer or a prospect?
Inna: We are currently working with a large oil and gas company in the Middle East to protect their growing and interconnected network of Edge and IoT infrastructures. Our client has numerous fuel stations across the world with many IoT devices and an expanding Edge network that cover different things such as edge-based computer vision technologies to improve safety and monitor equipment to prevent life-endangering errors.
The AI EdgeLabs solution became critical for our client to have a holistic and centralized tool that can monitor everything in their environment. Oftentimes, fuel stations are located remotely and don’t have a lot of stuff there including operational specialists that can do everything if something happens, so it was very important for the client to have automation in security too.
This client use case highlights our capabilities because of the constraints on their environments because a lot of applications and processes are done there, so they couldn’t actually digest a lot of resources and CPU from the Edge to prevent or interrupt applications. Ideally, you should be able to deliver your solution with multiple thousands of locations immediately and provide immediate insights in real time for critical infrastructure, especially considering lack of human and technical resources.
The fact that it’s a shared Edge infrastructure hosting a number of functional applications, whether video analytics, warehousing management, or monitoring equipment, and so on, whenever there is discontinuity in those functional elements because they’re remote and there’s no technical staff available to mitigate the discontinuity. A successful cyber attack has a disproportionate impact on business activity and therefore, it needs to be defended with simple and scalable solutions that can be deployed at the Edge.
Pierre: What makes Scalarr unique for customers to engage with?
Inna: We want our solution to be very simple, lightweight and flexible to cover multiple use cases because distributed networks are not homogenous and often have an evolving nature of topology, and we need to be adaptive. We provide real-time insights because it’s the way Edge is designed. As a security solution, it’s critical to process and deliver real-time insights; you cannot have a delay in response times. Edge and IoT networks can be very complex, which is why end-to-end solutions are needed, as such, our solution is an IDS/IPS/XDR solution to cover all the needed functionalities.
Additionally, we preserve a zero-trust approach under the premise that we don’t trust anything, which is critical for Edge and IoT network protection as they are characterized by having extended surfaces of attack, needed sophisticated and advanced AI to guarantee accuracy of detection and response.
Pierre: So, Inna, what is happening right now in the markets in terms of cyber threats at the Edge? What are you focused on?
Inna: When it comes to Edge threats, we see an increasing number of threats that stay uncovered for more than 280 days. Edge and IoT networks have a very standard surface network, so we need to consider that it can be attacked directly on the Edge or via IoT. I would say that 60% of all attacks are happening right now via IoT devices and that means that those attacks are very complex attacks.
Thus, you need a very complex approach to combat those attacks. We use both supervised and unsupervised algorithms, in combination with reinforcement learning, which is one of the most intelligent areas of AI.
To perform very efficiently, AI needs to be updated and retrained continuously, and we can push those updates automatically without any service interruption, helping clients rest assured that they can tackle all threats and attacks.
MEB: To echo what Inna mentions, we also see attacks becoming more sophisticated and the fact that static solutions don’t cut it anymore, which is why we’re very excited to have AI EdgeLabs on board because it provides this AI-driven solution that continues to learn and everytime you encounter a new scenario, that becomes part of the knowledge base that we grow and that our customers ultimately benefit from.
Inna wraps up her participation by emphasizing the flexibility, simplicity, and lightweight aspect of AI EdgeLabs. The easy-to-use, real-time solution covers virtually every use case across all industries, and because distributed Edge networks are not homogenous, the solution is also quick to adapt to the evolving nature of any network’s topology and delivers instant insights which is critical to secure Edge and IoT environments, as any delay in response times could be catastrophic.
For the full interview and more exciting topics from all the guests, please visit the recording here.