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Spikes Security founder and chief executive Branden Spikes left his position as the CIO of SpaceX to save your company from ruination.

Spikes is one of Elon Musk’s most trusted lieutenants. And today, the Musk-vetted security guru and his startup raised a cool $11 million first round of funding led by Lakewood & Company, Javelin Venture Partners, and Benhamou Global Ventures to build out their browser-focused security technology.

While at SpaceX, Spikes had a front-row seat to a continual and unrelenting barrage of attempted malware attacks from cyber thugs looking to steal company secrets. That experience at SpaceX, which lasted nearly 10 years, convinced Spikes that the best way to defeat malware begins with safeguarding employee browsers.

“I was the CIO for Elon Musk at all his companies, including SpaceX,” the mild mannered security guru told VentureBeat late Tuesday.


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“I was at SpaceX a long time and saw the company change from building spaceships to running them. With this, I saw an opportunity to take my skillset to the next level.”

The startup’s flagship security product is called AirGap. It acts as a barrier against malware designed to get employees to click on an affected link. AirGap functions by first deploying itself outside the company firewall. AirGap creates isolated virtual machines for each web session users request of the network in question.

AirGap, according to Spikes, automatically transforms all web content into a virtual image and delivers it over a proprietary protocol to the client viewer. This means that any malware associated with the infected web content, or the phishing lure, remains firmly outside the firewall.

The $11 million comes at an opportune moment in light of the Target, JP Morgan, Home Depot, and now Staples hacks that affected the accounts of over 300 million customers. Security analysts have blasted these firms for not being proactive outside the moat in isolating and thwarting hits.

In fact, the viruses that infected those companies lay undetected for months, wreaking serious damage, the extent of which is still being tallied. This fact is not lost upon the studious though laid-back Spikes, who bailed on college to pursue his dream with Musk.

In fact, Spikes posits that if the current cycle of successful attacks against American government and industry continues unabated, the U.S. could very well find itself erecting a barrier akin to the ‘Great Firewall of China” to lock the grid down. China tightly controls user access, and Spikes said at if the security community doesn’t get it soon, the U.S. may have no alternative other than to lock down the entire Internet infrastructure here to protect against malware.

Really, though, his experience working “with Ph.D. rocket scientists with severe senses of entitlement that couldn’t be told anything” shaped the vision for his startup because network security was the last thing on their minds, even though it was one of the most important in keeping Chinese government hack teams from boosting SpaceX’s virtual DNA.

“With infected browsers, there was no elegant solution to that problem. At SpaceX, we defended the network successfully against a never-ending stream of attacks. It was very scary,” he said.

“SpaceX does a great job of security. If we don’t solve this problem, it is a ticking time bomb for all these companies,” Spikes said.








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