051: Uri Fleyder-Kotler (Narya Security)

Uri Fleyder-Kotler on Innovation City

“At the end of the day, all of us are people. People want to help each other.” — Uri Fleyder-Kotler

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Uri Fleyder-Kotler, Co-Founder & CEO at Narya Security. Narya helps enterprise businesses solve the damage caused by ransomware with a single click. Uri is an experienced manager and security researcher, previously serving as Manager of the Advanced Threats Research Lab at RSA Security. He also has a top military record from a special technology unit in the Israeli Defense Force, has received three patents, and has another three patents pending. Uri joins Innovation City today to talk about what inspired him to start Narya, the benefits of joining an accelerator program, and the importance of integrity, hard work, and sacrifice in building any business.

They discuss:

  • Uri was born in the Ukraine and moved with his family to Israel when he was 9
  • He served in the Information and Communications Corps, dealing with encrypted radio frequencies and secure communications
  • Studying computer science and industrial management, and then going to work for RSA
  • Managing Cybercrime and the Advanced Threats Research Lab at RSA
  • Focusing on Nation-State attackers targeting the United States
  • Uri’s motivation: cybercriminals switched from attacking banks to attacking hospitals, which meant greater risks and losses for people who are at the lowest points in their lives. Uri wanted to find a solution to these attacks.
  • Ransomware: malicious attacks that infect and encrypt your data so you can’t use it, then hold the de-encryption key for ransom
  • Discussing the problem with Narya’s cofounder, Zeev Rabinovich, and working to find an approach that could work
  • Ransomware affects a business every 19 seconds
  • Phishing emails are the most common vector for ransomware infections
  • SamSam Ransomware Group, which operates like a nation-state actor when it attacks, even though their primary motivation is financial gain. They conduct very specific, targeted attacks, on a higher level than most cybercriminals
    • SamSam Group does not send phishing emails, they attack the technological infrastructure directly, exploiting exposed architecture
  • Cybersecurity is saturated with vendors; many vendors over-promise and under-deliver
  • Accountability is a big issue in cybersecurity right now
  • Proving that Narya can do what they say they can is a big part of Uri’s job
  • Narya Security is part of the Ameren Accelerator, an innovative partnership between the University of Missouri System,
  • UMSL Accelerate, and Capital Innovators
  • The importance of building a network through personal introductions
  • Narya uses machine-learning algorithms to detect when encryption activity is taking place anywhere across the target network, and then it moves swiftly to intercept and collect encryption keys that are being used for encryption. This enables corporate IT teams to see encryption activities clearly across their entire network, detect, confront, clean malware from the infected device, and decrypt any ransomware-encrypted files
  • Narya’s closest competitor, full-system backup services, can take days to clear and rebuild an infected system
  • Narya handles ransomware with 1-click
  • The value of working with a Fortune 500 company through the Ameren Accelerator
  • The value of having advisors from Ameren sharing their opinions when talking about designing and shaping their business strategy, as well as testing software within Ameren’s network
  • The importance of being honest and transparent
  • Why you should build your company for your customers, not your investors
  • The importance of integrity, hard work, and sacrifice
  • Uri’s grinding 14-hour daily schedule, and the loneliness of building a company in the U.S. when his family is back in Israel
  • Looking for early adopters, but not every business can pair effectively with an early stage startup
  • The sectors that are most vulnerable to ransomware: utilities, manufacturing, health care, financial institutions, and local governments and municipalities