Qualys CEO creates security non-profit to fix the Internet

Philippe Courtot

Philippe Courtot, chief executive of compliance software maker Qualys, launched the Trustworthy Internet Movement last night, pledging $500,000 of his own funds to integrate security into the product-making process.

“Just the very fact that I could get the domain name “trustworthy internet” says it all,” Courtot told VentureBeat.

Much of security is reactionary. McAfee general manager of network security Pat Calhoun likens it to a house break-in. You get the alarm system after your house has been robbed. If you already have an alarm system, you start using it when your possessions go missing. Security is an afterthought. Prevention means admitting that you’re vulnerable, a difficulty for any person or corporation.

But if we don’t build security technology in from the start, we open ourselves up to zero-day attacks, said Courtot. He said it’s like brushing your teeth. Scrub first to prevent issues. “It’s basic hygiene.”

The Trustworthy Internet Movement, like many movements, has a focus but no real solution — yet. Courtot’s $500,000 will go toward recruiting members and providing resources to start creating security technology that is company-agnostic. Members can come from anywhere, any company, but the innovations won’t exist under their title. Courtot is looking for those with expertise in domain-focused enterprises, technology leaders, “stakeholders” or individuals who want to solve a particular problem (such as botnets), anyone willing to make a donation, academic institutions, and non-profits.

Before he’s ready to announce partners and talk more about the initiative, however, Courtot wants a win. A win being a solution to a well-known problem. Currently he’s focused on botnets, e-mail spoofing, and SSL compliance, but he hasn’t chosen the problem he’d like this growing group to attack first. While solving a basic Internet issue like e-mail spoofing might seem laughable, it’s not impossible. Courtot explained that the cause of e-mail spoofing is already known, so finding out “how” people do this is not the problem. Gathering the right people together to make a solution is. By coming up with actual technology, the Trustworthy Internet Movement will be better equipped to pitch venture capitalists.

Despite his quiet start, Courtot said he has the support of Qualys’ big name customers such as Google.

Unlike Qualys’ mission, however, it’s not about protecting the cloud. “The cloud is done,” he said, “The train has left the station.” It’s about solving the Internet’s problems because without starting at the beginning, the cloud will never be safe.


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