Closing the Gap - Identifying Mobile Devices to Ensure Corporate Security-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Closing the Gap - Identifying Mobile Devices to Ensure Corporate Security

Giridhar Sreenivas (MS ’06), along with co-founder Dirk Sigurdson, recently announced the acquisition of their startup, Mobilisafe, by Boston-based Rapid7, a heavily-funded security company.

Mobilisafe is a risk management product that provides visibility to employers regarding who is using mobile devices and on what platform. Additionally, the product offers risk analysis of these devices by mapping out their configurations and vulnerabilities to produce a “TrustScore” between 1 – 10; with 10 being most trustworthy and 0 being a red flag not to trust the device. And finally, Mobilisafe offers varying remediation and litigation options for companies.

Sreenivas’ connection with Carnegie Mellon University goes back much further than the master’s degree in software engineering he completed in 2006. He tells us, “As a high school student, I was first introduced to CMU as part of their Advanced Placement / Early Admission summer program. The experience stuck with me and I was extremely happy to become re-associated with the school as a graduate student.”

As a full time employee for Lockheed Martin, Sreenivas attended CMUSV in the Software Engineering Technical Track program. In 2008 Sreenivas began working for T-Mobile as software architect with Dirk Sigurdson on developing Android. According to Sreenivas, “T-Mobile was first to market with Android when they released the G1.”

While at T-Mobile, Sreenivas and Sigurdson noticed the pervasive trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the workplace. Employees were bringing their personal mobile phones to their jobs and wanted to use them to access work-related email and other data on their personal phones. Sreenivas reports, “There were security issues with this new trend and it interested us. Dirk and I started investigating this issue and refined an idea worth pursuing.”

Sreenivas explains, “Our startup, Mobilisafe, devised a way for employers to determine which of these employee devices were eligible for updates and how to ensure that the employees would actually update the devices.” Mobilisafe discovered that 40% of Android phones and 64% of other iOS devices were running outdated software. Sreenivas says, “End users play a critical role in security. They hold the responsibility to run the latest versions of software by keeping their device up to date. Our product makes it easy for an employer to enable employee updates and block devices that are outdated.”

After leaving T-Mobile to set out on the new start up, Sreenivas and Sigurdson approached Madrona Venture Group; an early investor in amazon with a good track record of helping companies in their infancy; and, Trilogy Equity Partners; founded by John Stanton, a pioneer in the wireless space.

In May 2011, they raised enough money to build their team and create their product. In June 2012, Mobilisafe was commercially launched and by fall about a half a dozen acquisition requests had already been received. Sreenivas offers, “Rapid7 had a philosophy that was complementary to Mobilisafe. Our views on the security market and its products are identical – the focus needs to shift to ease of use and ease of deployment.” So, in October of this year, the deal was closed and Mobilisafe along with its seven-member team joined Rapid7.

Working with Nexpose, a product that detects vulnerable devices in the network, and Metasploit, that identifies actively exploitable devices, Rapid7 is a leading provider of security assessment products for laptops and other devices. However, they did not have similar capabilities for mobile devices. “The trend of (Bring Your Own Device) highlights one of the greatest challenges organizations face in security, which is identifying all the devices being used to access corporate data, and understanding the associated threats so they can be mitigated,” said Mike Tuchen, CEO of Rapid7. “With the acquisition of Mobilisafe, Rapid7 addresses this challenge, providing visibility of mobile devices and enabling organizations to manage their risk and take mitigating action.”

Sreenivas reports that Rapid7 is working to build its Seattle office, so he will be spending much of his time recruiting new team members. He is looking to CMU alumni because, “anyone who completed a degree at CMU is a strong candidate for hire. It is much easier to vet someone who has cleared that bar out of the gate. It is an instant validator of their ability.”

Sreenivas grew up in Seattle. He spent about 10 years in Silicon Valley and moved back to Seattle in 2008. He married Katie Cameron in 2008 and they recently welcomed a son, Kiran, who is 4 months old. According to Sreenivas, “Another start-up adventure!”

In photo: William Cheng, Saj Sahay, Christina Luconi, Mike Tuchen, Kurt Berglund, Lee Weiner, Rich Perkett, Giri Sreenivas, Lindsay Borden, Corey Thomas and Dirk Sigurdson.