Cybersecurity company puts down roots in Hillsboro to take advantage of Intel/McAfee talent pool.

COURTESY: CARBON BLACK - White list by Carbon Black. The Boston company is opening a Hillsboro office.

Boston-based Carbon Black Security is opening an office in Hillsboro. The firm does end point cybersecurity. An "end point" is a laptop, desktop, any device or server. Their offerings include features such as making sure if you use your personal phone to connect to your work's network, intruders can't use you to get their hands on the company data. Google docs, forms you downloaded from the HR section of the corporate drive, email…they can all let malware in.

Ryan Polk, Carbon Black's chief product officer, told me they are building a threat center here, which is a room where they scour the world for viruses and try to stop them before they get a hold on the network.

"We're investing in the Portland-Beaverton-Hillsboro area because of the strong talent in the end point security and threat research areas,"

Hillsboro is McAfee territory. Polk says they think of McAfee as a player in the end point space and they work with them and CB's customers. As for Hillsboro chip giant Intel, which owns McAfee, Carbon Black services some of their structured end points. "We are competitors with McAfee, but with Intel we have partnerships," say Polk.

Carbon Black has offerings such as an application white listing (good programs), a response product which is a recording device for events that happen on a machine, and a defense product. The latter is "a next generation antivirus product, using more than just signature-based approaches to blocking malware." Instead it measures vulnerability and tries to stay one step ahead of threats.

Typically, an antivirus firm sets up a large database of the names of bad files (viruses and malware) then sends it to the machine that needs protecting. The machine checks this list constantly to make sure it has not inadvertently picked up any infections.

"It's a simple scheme and it's worked for the last 30 years, but as attackers have evolved, it's become weak in the last 10 years," said Polk.

It is weak because it's almost impossible to block malware on the first day it comes out (the unknown unknowns) and because hackers have figured out how to leverage their understanding of the system to defeat it.

Carbon Black focuses on big data analytics in the cloud along with behavioral prevention systems. He explains:

"When you open Outlook, on our scoring system that's a 0 or a 1. Opening a PDF from the email, that's still common, a 0 or a 1. Then Adobe starts opening Powershell, and it gets complicated."

All this happens behind the scenes. You might see a pop-up box, but the user wouldn't see the behavior that matters to Carbon Black.

COURTESY: CARBON BLACK - How threats are detected by Carbon Black. The Boston company is openeing a Hillsboro office.

"Understanding the chain of events is what adds value to our product."

Polk is looking for software engineers, especially those with security, end point and security experience (ex-hackers welcome). They typically write in C and C++ and have strong experience in Windows, Linux and Mac OS.

"We're looking at highly experienced but we're looking to build a team here, which means some people straight out of college with a computer science degree."

The company has a lot of remote workers. They picked Hillsboro over Portland because a lot of the team were already there, because it was near their competitors, and a good place to find new talent.

Carbon Black is an "agile" company, looking to build a team with people in engineering, QA (quality assurance) and product management. They already have 20 contractors in the area, but the office is set up for 65. Those 20 have been getting together every week or two at the Insomnia coffee shop in Hillsboro, but now they need a permanent home.

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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