Asaf Lifshitz Interview with CISO Magazine

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Volume 3 Issue 6<br />

Volume 3 Issue 6<br />



<strong>Interview</strong> of<br />


Co-Founder and CEO of Sayata Labs<br />

16<br />

Rudra Srinivas 17<br />

<strong>Asaf</strong> is the co-founder of Sayata Labs, an enterprise-grade risk<br />

assessment solution for the cyber insurance industry. Before founding<br />

Sayata Labs, <strong>Asaf</strong> was a Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group,<br />

advising clients on their strategic business issues. After graduating from the<br />

IDF’s elite Talpiot Program for R&D leadership, <strong>Asaf</strong> worked as a Physicist<br />

in the Ministry of Defense. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business<br />

School, an M.Sc. in Physics, and a B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics.<br />

<strong>CISO</strong> MAG | June 2019 <strong>CISO</strong> MAG | June 2019



Volume 3 Issue 6<br />

Volume 3 Issue 6<br />



18<br />

1. How did you decide<br />

to start a business?<br />

The idea for Sayata Labs emerged<br />

when my partners and I identified<br />

a unique opportunity to bring our<br />

cybersecurity and data science<br />

expertise to bear for small and<br />

medium-sized businesses. We<br />

noticed that the cybersecurity<br />

industry had several structural<br />

problems, and after conducting<br />

thorough research, determined<br />

that the cyber insurance industry,<br />

in which actual performance<br />

can be measured, is perfectly<br />

positioned to tackle these<br />

challenges. Of course, we knew<br />

that addressing these issues would<br />

require a team <strong>with</strong> critical skillsets<br />

in cybersecurity, insurance, and<br />

data science. We assembled a very<br />

strong team <strong>with</strong> a proven track<br />

record of success in these fields<br />

and developed a solution which<br />

provides deep insights into cyber<br />

risks, at scale.<br />

2. What are the biggest<br />

challenges you face<br />

as the founder of a<br />

startup?<br />

As a startup, we need to be<br />

extremely agile and quick. One<br />

of the biggest challenges we face<br />

is quickly growing our team to<br />

keep up <strong>with</strong> customer demand.<br />

The cyber insurance industry is<br />

rapidly expanding and that puts<br />

more pressure on us to meet that<br />

demand. Additionally, cyber risk<br />

is a sensitive topic, especially for<br />

the SMB market, and requires us to<br />

educate the market as to the nature<br />

and depth of the risks involved.<br />

This takes time, but the hackers<br />

aren’t waiting.<br />

3. How are you<br />

tackling the awareness<br />

problem? What does<br />

your outreach to SMBs<br />

look like?<br />

We emphasize that small and<br />

medium-sized businesses<br />

are increasingly aware of the<br />

importance of cybersecurity<br />

and the potentially devastating<br />

consequences of getting it wrong.<br />

They’ve seen the effects of cyber<br />

attacks up close: 43% of all cyberattacks<br />

target SMBs. But complex<br />

threats require sophisticated<br />

solutions, and SMBs don’t usually<br />

have the time and proper toolset to<br />

deal <strong>with</strong> these threats effectively.<br />

With Sayata’s advanced technology,<br />

SMBs receive full visibility into<br />

their organizations’ level of risk.<br />

We designed our system to be<br />

intuitive, <strong>with</strong> a seamless user<br />

experience for customers even<br />

if they have limited technical<br />

knowledge of cybersecurity issues.<br />

19<br />

<strong>CISO</strong> MAG | June 2019 <strong>CISO</strong> MAG | June 2019



Volume 3 Issue 6<br />

Volume 3 Issue 6<br />



The system is created in a way that<br />

no special knowledge is required<br />

and the system is extremely<br />

simple and quick. Our focus is<br />

on what’s most important for SMB<br />

leaders: providing a clear, full view<br />

of an organization’s risk exposure,<br />

so we can enable them to address<br />

any issues or vulnerabilities<br />

facing their businesses. For those<br />

who want to delve further into<br />

the technical aspects, we provide<br />

deeper explanations and userfriendly<br />

recommendations.<br />

20<br />

4. What’s Sayata’s<br />

approach in assessing<br />

a company’s risk<br />

exposure?<br />

Sayata’s data science and<br />

cybersecurity experts understand<br />

the vulnerabilities, exploits, and<br />

potential attacks that cause cyber<br />

breaches. This, combined <strong>with</strong><br />

our insights into factors that are<br />

predictive of actual cyber losses,<br />

enable us to pinpoint a company’s<br />

risk exposure <strong>with</strong> exceptional<br />

accuracy.<br />

A major challenge is that there is<br />

generally a tradeoff between the<br />

depth of a cyber assessment and<br />

the ease of using it. We created<br />

advanced technology to enable<br />

the use of deep analytics, but<br />

also made it simple, efficient, and<br />

understandable so it can be used<br />

at scale. Additionally, as the cyber<br />

threat landscape evolves, the<br />

solutions need to evolve as well.<br />

We are dynamic and check for a<br />

21<br />

<strong>CISO</strong> MAG | June 2019 <strong>CISO</strong> MAG | June 2019



Volume 3 Issue 6<br />

Volume 3 Issue 6<br />



22<br />

range of relevant factors so we can<br />

detect these changes quickly.<br />

Sayata is bridging the worlds of<br />

cybersecurity and insurance so<br />

that together we can improve<br />

SMBs’ cyber posture at large.<br />

5. You have held a<br />

wide range of titles<br />

before founding<br />

Sayata Labs. How was<br />

your transition from a<br />

researcher to a CEO?<br />

Looking back, it’s clear that<br />

everything on my path prepared<br />

me for Sayata Labs. As a researcher,<br />

I dealt <strong>with</strong> complex problems<br />

in experimental and theoretical<br />

physics, which required me to<br />

better understand the world,<br />

create models, and check their<br />

assumptions to obtain results.<br />

As a commander in an elite<br />

technological unit in the Israel<br />

Defense Forces, I learned to be a<br />

successful leader among dozens<br />

of extremely talented individuals.<br />

Then, as a Harvard Buisness school<br />

graduate and a consultant at BCG,<br />

I learned how to identify and<br />

address strategic challenges in<br />

various industries in a methodical,<br />

scientific way; in this case, I was<br />

studying not electrons and protons,<br />

but the actions and behavior<br />

various actors such as cyberattackers<br />

and defenders. Once we<br />

started Sayata, this diverse range<br />

of experiences equipped me to<br />

effectively lead our company in<br />

our mission to apply our team’s<br />

wealth of knowledge, technical<br />

expertise and strategic insights to<br />

help organizations address their<br />

most urgent problems.<br />

23<br />

<strong>CISO</strong> MAG | June 2019 <strong>CISO</strong> MAG | June 2019

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