Asaf Lifshitz Interview with CISO Magazine

SayataLabs

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Volume 3 Issue 6

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Interview of

ASAF LIFSHITZ,

Co-Founder and CEO of Sayata Labs

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Rudra Srinivas 17

Asaf is the co-founder of Sayata Labs, an enterprise-grade risk

assessment solution for the cyber insurance industry. Before founding

Sayata Labs, Asaf was a Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group,

advising clients on their strategic business issues. After graduating from the

IDF’s elite Talpiot Program for R&D leadership, Asaf worked as a Physicist

in the Ministry of Defense. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business

School, an M.Sc. in Physics, and a B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics.

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1. How did you decide

to start a business?

The idea for Sayata Labs emerged

when my partners and I identified

a unique opportunity to bring our

cybersecurity and data science

expertise to bear for small and

medium-sized businesses. We

noticed that the cybersecurity

industry had several structural

problems, and after conducting

thorough research, determined

that the cyber insurance industry,

in which actual performance

can be measured, is perfectly

positioned to tackle these

challenges. Of course, we knew

that addressing these issues would

require a team with critical skillsets

in cybersecurity, insurance, and

data science. We assembled a very

strong team with a proven track

record of success in these fields

and developed a solution which

provides deep insights into cyber

risks, at scale.

2. What are the biggest

challenges you face

as the founder of a

startup?

As a startup, we need to be

extremely agile and quick. One

of the biggest challenges we face

is quickly growing our team to

keep up with customer demand.

The cyber insurance industry is

rapidly expanding and that puts

more pressure on us to meet that

demand. Additionally, cyber risk

is a sensitive topic, especially for

the SMB market, and requires us to

educate the market as to the nature

and depth of the risks involved.

This takes time, but the hackers

aren’t waiting.

3. How are you

tackling the awareness

problem? What does

your outreach to SMBs

look like?

We emphasize that small and

medium-sized businesses

are increasingly aware of the

importance of cybersecurity

and the potentially devastating

consequences of getting it wrong.

They’ve seen the effects of cyber

attacks up close: 43% of all cyberattacks

target SMBs. But complex

threats require sophisticated

solutions, and SMBs don’t usually

have the time and proper toolset to

deal with these threats effectively.

With Sayata’s advanced technology,

SMBs receive full visibility into

their organizations’ level of risk.

We designed our system to be

intuitive, with a seamless user

experience for customers even

if they have limited technical

knowledge of cybersecurity issues.

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The system is created in a way that

no special knowledge is required

and the system is extremely

simple and quick. Our focus is

on what’s most important for SMB

leaders: providing a clear, full view

of an organization’s risk exposure,

so we can enable them to address

any issues or vulnerabilities

facing their businesses. For those

who want to delve further into

the technical aspects, we provide

deeper explanations and userfriendly

recommendations.

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4. What’s Sayata’s

approach in assessing

a company’s risk

exposure?

Sayata’s data science and

cybersecurity experts understand

the vulnerabilities, exploits, and

potential attacks that cause cyber

breaches. This, combined with

our insights into factors that are

predictive of actual cyber losses,

enable us to pinpoint a company’s

risk exposure with exceptional

accuracy.

A major challenge is that there is

generally a tradeoff between the

depth of a cyber assessment and

the ease of using it. We created

advanced technology to enable

the use of deep analytics, but

also made it simple, efficient, and

understandable so it can be used

at scale. Additionally, as the cyber

threat landscape evolves, the

solutions need to evolve as well.

We are dynamic and check for a

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range of relevant factors so we can

detect these changes quickly.

Sayata is bridging the worlds of

cybersecurity and insurance so

that together we can improve

SMBs’ cyber posture at large.

5. You have held a

wide range of titles

before founding

Sayata Labs. How was

your transition from a

researcher to a CEO?

Looking back, it’s clear that

everything on my path prepared

me for Sayata Labs. As a researcher,

I dealt with complex problems

in experimental and theoretical

physics, which required me to

better understand the world,

create models, and check their

assumptions to obtain results.

As a commander in an elite

technological unit in the Israel

Defense Forces, I learned to be a

successful leader among dozens

of extremely talented individuals.

Then, as a Harvard Buisness school

graduate and a consultant at BCG,

I learned how to identify and

address strategic challenges in

various industries in a methodical,

scientific way; in this case, I was

studying not electrons and protons,

but the actions and behavior

various actors such as cyberattackers

and defenders. Once we

started Sayata, this diverse range

of experiences equipped me to

effectively lead our company in

our mission to apply our team’s

wealth of knowledge, technical

expertise and strategic insights to

help organizations address their

most urgent problems.

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