Beachhead Secures The Cloud

by R.E.Curtice

A recent RSA Conference on security offered many chances to examine the latest security mechanisms in place in the technological universe. It was also a place to meet and mingle with the best minds in the field. One of the very best was a Silicon Valley pioneer Jim Obot, President and CEO of Beachhead Solutions. His credentials include a stint at Apple Computers during the first incarnation of Steve Jobs. A vigorous man exuding energy, he kept us enthralled with stories from the trenches during boom times in The Valley.

InsRep: Before we get to your current interest, you had some interesting times in The Valley. For instance, you were there when Apple sued Microsoft over expropriation of Apple's graphical user interface. What was that like?

Jim Obot: Rumor had it that there had been a memo by Xerox Park to the effect that anyone could take advantage of many of the "look and feel" stuff of Xerox Park. Apple had a leadership position but they let it get away, until Jobs came back and re-invented the company. One of the quotes I like to attribute to Jobs at that time was, "The journey is the reward." People are always chasing the pot at the end of the rainbow. You're always dissatisfied. But if you look back at the journey, you realize that it was the reward.

Another interesting item from that time is about the Macintosh ad they did for the Superbowl. They only allowed it to be run once. They got a tremendous amount of press and notoriety. What happened was that NBC, CBS and ABC kept running the ad over and over. So they never had to run the ad because everyone thought it was unique that they kept running it. Lately they have updated it showing the girl wearing an Ipod! Also they had signed a deal with Apple Records, the Beatles company, not to go into the music industry, and got sued over it. But they settled for a big sum, and after they got into the music business, basically re-invented the company.

InsRep: Those were certainly memorable days. Now what about you company Beachhead Solutions? That certainly is an interesting name. How did it get that name?

JO: Beachhead is significant for a couple reasons. One is that we have some ex-military guys in the organization. The second reason is that our software establishes a Beachhead on the client. Most security solutions are server-centric or network-centric solutions. What we did is that we established a beachhead on the client. Thus the client software talks back to the administration servers for instructions. It allows us to get at some of our unique, patented triggers.

The data destruction component of our business, I think, takes advantage of a completely unserved or a very under served niche of the security market. This is the destroying of data on the hard drive. The reason we picked that was because the data on the hard drive, whether they are in laptops or PDAs or especially global devices, is there forever. It's never going anywhere. It doesn't matter if it's the first thief, the third thief or the fifth thief, someone might have access to data mining tools that could extract very important information.

We contend that the ultimate form of security is the elimination of that data. Your social security number is never going to change; your mother's maiden name is never going to change. This information, once it is exposed or compromised, is out there forever. It doesn't matter whether it's now or tomorrow or ten years from now. Someone could have access to that data, your data and do something with it, specially with the increase in identity theft and data mining tools. What we contend is that the way to secure from compromise is to eliminate the data. That is how we got into that space.

Lost Data Destruction (LDD) is our new software to handle the problem. This security solution automatically destroys specified data on lost or stolen laptop and desktop computers to prevent its compromise or misuse. Of all the laptops lost or stolen, only 2% are ever recovered. Rather than leave that data, all that valuable information, in the hands of someone you don't know, it's easier to eliminate the data and reduce the risk.

InsRep: You made an interesting comment about the data on the stolen or lost laptop. It was that although the first person to lay hands on the laptop may not be the threat.

JO: Certainly. The one who first gets it may have just broken a car window to get at it, for drug money. But that laptop will move; it will move to auction houses, to eBay, to flea markets. Every time it changes hands the potential risk becomes greater that the data, which is on the move, will fall into hands of someone who has malicious intent. That is why Beachhead contends the only way to completely secure your data is to eliminate it.

What we do is to overwrite the data on the hard drive. We use a random number generator to create the over write, so it's gone. There is no back to work, no key, no way of getting it back. But since this data is copy of the data that sits on the server, so the good new is you should get the laptop back, in that 2% case, you can just re-populate the data. ||