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Moving Target Defense Startup Cryptonite Emerges From Stealth

Cryptonite, a Rockville, Maryland-based startup that aims to prevent reconnaissance and lateral movement in the network using moving target defense and micro-segmentation technologies, has emerged from stealth mode.

The company’s product, the CryptoniteNXT network appliance, implements what is known as a Zero Trust environment, which is achieved by minimizing access to resources and visibility within the network to the absolute minimal subset needed by users to carry out their job.

CryptoniteNXT, which sits between the perimeter firewall and the organization’s internal wired and wireless networking devices (i.e. switches and wireless access points), uses a concept known as moving target defense (MTD) to make systems “invisible.”CryptoniteNXT

The MTD technology, implemented by a CryptoniteNXT component named Net Guard, aims to prevent an attacker who already has access from mapping the network and finding vulnerable systems that they could exploit. This solution can also provide protection against insiders and malicious actors who are already on the network when the product is deployed as previous network maps become unusable.

“CryptoniteNXT Net Guard does this by transforming the endpoint’s view of the network into a dynamic, abstract structure, in effect making the once static network into a dynamic moving target,” Cryptonite said. “Net Guard MTD creates a mapping from the obfuscated network to the real network to enable the flow of traffic across the traditional network infrastructure.”

In order to restrict lateral movement within the network, CryptoniteNXT uses a component named Micro Shield Segmentation. This ensures that users only have visibility into the machines needed to do their job, preventing malicious insiders and attackers from moving freely across the network.

Cryptonite says the product and the Zero Trust environment it creates can be used to address a wide range of risks, including ones associated with the lack of updates and patches, insecure IoT devices, and mobile devices.

Initial research and development into Cryptonite’s MTD technology was funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DoD).

Cryptonite, a spin-off of Maryland defense contractor Intelligent Automation (IAI), is led by President and CEO Michael Simon, and Justin Yackoski, CTO and former lead researcher at IAI.

Cryptonite is backed by several investors, including Tenable founder Ron Gula; David Walker, founder of Pangia Technologies; Al Nardslico, founder of SMS; Abtin Buergari, founder of Modus eDiscovery; Don Rogers, co-founder of Shulman Rogers; and Dr. Leonard Haynes, co-founder of IAI.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.