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Revolutionizing Cybersecurity with AI: The Birth of Simbian

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Trained as an electrical engineer, Kumar made his mark in the tech industry by spearheading hardware design at Nvidia AI for eight years, where he played a pivotal role in creating a high-speed memory controller for GPUs widely adopted across the sector. In a bold career move, Kumar transitioned from hardware to cybersecurity in 2010, which eventually led him to co-establish Fortanix, a pioneering platform dedicated to cloud data security.

During his tenure at Fortanix, Kumar conceived an innovative concept for a new startup: an AI-driven solution to streamline and automate cybersecurity workflows within an organization. This idea was born out of the challenges he identified in the cybersecurity landscape.

Kumar shared his insights with TechCrunch, stating, “Security leaders are under immense pressure. The average tenure of a CISO is just a couple of years, and the turnover rate among security analysts is alarmingly high. Moreover, the situation is deteriorating.”

His response to this industry dilemma was Simbian, a cybersecurity platform he co-founded with Alankrit Chona, a former software engineer at Twitter. Simbian stands out by acting as a conductor for other cybersecurity platforms, applications, and tools. Utilizing AI, it can autonomously coordinate and manage existing security measures, customizing configurations for each according to the company’s security priorities and business objectives.

Simbian’s user-friendly chatbot interface allows users to input cybersecurity objectives in natural language, and the platform will then offer tailored recommendations and initiate “automated actions” to fulfill the stated goals as effectively as possible.

Kumar noted, “Security companies have traditionally focused on enhancing their individual products, leading to market fragmentation. This, in turn, increases the operational burden on organizations.” Supporting his view are surveys indicating that a significant portion of cybersecurity budgets are spent ineffectively on an excess of tools. A Forbes-cited survey revealed that over half of the companies believe they have wasted approximately 50% of their budgets, yet still struggle to mitigate threats. Another study showed that the average organization manages an average of 76 distinct security tools, causing overwhelm among IT teams and leadership.

Kumar further explained, “Cybersecurity has long been a game of cat and mouse. The attack surface is expanding with IT growth, and there is a significant talent shortage.” Echoing this concern is a recent survey from Cybersecurity Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on security, which predicts a deficit of 3.5 million cyber experts by 2025.

Simbian’s platform not only automates the configuration of a company’s security suite but also aims to reduce the number of alerts security analysts need to address by responding to “security events,” allowing customers to focus on higher-level security strategy.

However, this relies on the assumption that Simbian’s AI is infallible, which is a challenging proposition, given AI’s known propensity for errors. To mitigate this, Simbian’s AI was trained through a crowdsourcing initiative—a game on its website called “Are you smarter than an LLM?”—which challenged volunteers to trick the AI into making incorrect decisions. This collective learning, combined with the efforts of in-house researchers, was used to refine the AI’s decision-making in real-world scenarios.

Despite these measures, there are privacy concerns associated with a system that has control over other security systems. Kumar assures that every precaution has been taken to safeguard against data breaches. Simbian employs encryption, with customers holding the encryption keys, and allows for data deletion at any time.

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Kumar emphasized, “As a customer, you maintain complete control over your data.”

Although Simbian is not the first to overlay AI on traditional security tools—Nexusflow offers a similar product—it has managed to garner investor confidence. The company recently closed a $10 million funding round, led by prominent investors such as Gokul Rajaram from Coinbase, Aditya Singh from Cota Capital, and partners from Icon Ventures, Firebolt, and Rain Capital.

Rajaram expressed his support for Simbian, saying, “Cybersecurity is a critical issue in today’s world, with a fragmented ecosystem of thousands of vendors. Companies have been trying to build expertise around specific products and issues. I believe in Simbian’s approach to creating an integrated platform that understands and operates all aspects of security. Despite the technological challenges, I have invested my money in Simbian, backing a team with a unique range of expertise from hardware to cloud.”

Based in Mountain View, Simbian, currently employing 15 people, plans to allocate the majority of its newly raised funds towards product development. Kumar aims to double the company’s workforce by year-end.

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