We attended the annual RSA cybersecurity conference this year, which proved to be quite a large event, even with people worried about increasing cases of Covid. While there, we conducted a straw poll among our CISO advisors and those we met regarding cybersecurity spending in 2022. While many CISOs must give back some of their budgets, the average number appears to be about 10%, which is often still an increase YoY, just a lesser amount. And at one company doing layoffs, while hiring freezes were across the whole company, the security teams were exempt from the layoffs.
Given that cybersecurity spending seems to be firewalled off from general spending cuts, we are starting this newsletter with an article about how cybersecurity looks to be a safe haven in the private markets right now. While we think a recession could be in the cards, and maybe we are already in one, this is an excellent time for companies to build and find their product-market fit. We are essentially bullish on funding companies in this type of downturn.
Also, we have written in the past about how Russian cyberattacks might spill out from Ukraine and trigger NATO's mutual defense compact. We are now seeing an uptick in Russian attacks against countries providing aid to Ukraine. However, these don't appear to spill over from attacks against Ukraine and don't seem to be seen as acts of war by those being attacked.
Below are a few of the articles that caught our attention this month. Moreover, we’ve inserted one or two sentences in italics, summarizing each article’s importance. We hope you enjoy and appreciate the material.
Here's a curated list of things we found interesting.
Cybersecurity looks like a safe haven in private finance
Attackers don't stop breaking into networks due to a downturn in the markets and cybersecurity has become existential for most companies. For these reasons spending on security has less downward pressure than most other IT spending. As venture and private-equity investors review their portfolios, some sectors like cybersecurity are showing signs of resilience.
Google suspends engineer who claims its AI is sentient
While most experts agree that these chats are cherry picked and don't show a sentient computer, these types of stories will probably be more common in the future. Google has placed one of its engineers on paid administrative leave for allegedly breaking its confidentiality policies after he grew concerned that an AI chatbot system had achieved sentience, the Washington Post reports. The engineer, Blake Lemoine, works for Google's Responsible AI organization, and was testing whether its LaMDA model generates discriminatory language or hate speech.
Russia Increased Cyber Espionage Against Countries Supporting Ukraine, Microsoft Says
It has finally happened, Russia has begun to increase cyberattacks against the countries that are supporting the Ukraine. It remains to be seen if they end up triggering NATO defense provisions.
WASHINGTON-Russian intelligence agencies have increased the pace of cyberattacks against nations that have provided aid to Ukraine, according to new research published Wednesday by Microsoft Corp., which said it had observed Moscow-backed hacking attempts in over 40 countries.
Deals that caught our eye.
IBM to Acquire Randori for Attack Surface Management Tech
Technology giant IBM has announced plans to acquire early-stage attack surface management startup Randori in a deal that signals a major expansion of Big Blue's cybersecurity ambitions. Randori, a Boston area startup with a well-established reputation in the lucrative ASM (attack surface management) category, sells technology to help defenders conduct simulated hacking attacks on a continuous basis.
Lytical Ventures is a New York City-based venture firm investing in Corporate Intelligence, comprising cybersecurity, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. Lytical’s professionals have decades of experience in direct investing generally and in Corporate Intelligence specifically.