In November 2016, China's first overseas-listed P2P lending platform Yirendai reported 3Q financial loss of RMB 81.3m due to a cyber attack on one of its lending products. In 2019, businesses were estimated to have incurred total losses of over $2tn worldwide. In the rapidly growing social media sector, about 53% of logins were fraudulent and 25% of new accounts found to be fake, according to a report by Arkose Labs.
However, many companies are reluctant to spend more on cybersecurity because it does not generate revenue. New companies also tend to focus on growing the business during the early years. An unfortunate hit by cyber criminals can seriously damage a company's business and destroy its brand reputation overnight. Noting the high costs and lack of user-friendly and affordable cybersecurity systems in the market, ex-Tencent senior security engineer Bi Yu decided to create a predictive model for cybersecurity intelligence.
While working at Tencent and Cheetah Mobile, Yu specialized in account security and led a research team to dig deep into workings of the underground cybercrime economy. As cyber attacks and hacking technology become more advanced and globalized, EverSafe Online CEO Bi Yu is convinced that a proactive cybersecurity model would be more effective, instead of the wait-and-kill passive strategy currently used by many companies.
Originally founded as Threat Hunter (TH) in 2017, the Shenzhen-based startup developed a business intelligence platform TH-Karma that can identify malicious activity with an accuracy of 99.9%. It collates and analyzes an extensive database of suspicious cyber activities to predict potential threats, attacking intentions and patterns. The monitoring of cyber attacking flows of over 100,000 servers every day can be used to help clients to pre-empt potential malicious activities as early as possible. After securing total pre-A and Series A funding of over RMB 40m, the company was rebranded as EverSafe Online in 2019.
In March 2020, EverSafe Online upgraded the TH-Karma platform into China's first business intelligence search engine. Clients can use the search engine to collect all the IP addresses, phone numbers or software tools that may expose any of their products or business to potential cyber attacks. The findings can then be fed into TH-Nebula, a decision-making platform that monitors and analyzes the risks to flag up any vulnerable areas that may need extra protection against cyber threats.
From passive defense to data-driven predictions
Conventional cybersecurity companies usually focus on defenses by detecting security loopholes and weeding out viruses and other malicious activities as and when they occur. But it’s a bit like a football match: If you only keep defending without finding opportunities and striking back, you’ll never win the game.
Effective cybersecurity largely depends on detecting threats in advance and making quick responses. “Every day we will face new and evolving cybersecurity threats, making it impossible to have a perfect defense system,” said CTO Deng Xin. “We need to invest more in detection and response to help corporates quickly identify and solve problems.”
Initially targeted at major internet companies such as Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com, EverSafe Online was marketed as an external provider of specialist support services to supplement the internal security systems managed by the cybersecurity staff of the big tech companies. Generating the same solutions of their own from scratch requires massive investment in personnel and cash resources. EverSafe Online's ready-made solutions are highly cost effective as supplements to boost their existing cyber security systems, said Bi Yu.
Working closely with tech giants also gives EverSafe Online an edge over rival cybersecurity providers. Tech giants are often in the frontline, constantly evaluating potential cyber risks and acting quickly to tackle any issues before any damage is done. To date, 23 of the top 30 internet companies in China are clients of EverSafe Online. By gearing up to meet such demanding cybersecurity needs, EverSafe Online would be able to satisfy the requirements of other corporations.
In addition, the company is preparing to unveil an open-source risk control system for SMEs. Many young startups can easily become the targets of cyber attacks. The open-source product will enable SMEs to restructure their own risk control systems at an affordable cost and hence lower the threshold of business cybersecurity solutions.
Beyond the business world, EverSafe Online has reached out to the public sector's security authorities. In August 2019, it helped the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department to crack an internet fraud case and capture 63 suspects who were accused of stealing verification codes by pre-installing backdoors on phones.