University of California, Riverside

Bourns College of Engineering



UC Riverside BCOE Alumnus Launches Startup to Tackle Next Generation of Cyber Security Threats


UC Riverside BCOE Alumnus Launches Startup to Tackle Next Generation of Cyber Security Threats

February 22, 2016

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Target had 70 million customers compromised, Anthem Inc. had 80 million vulnerable accounts, and details continue to emerge of Time Warner Cable’s 320,000 customers whose personal data was hacked during a cybersecurity breach made public just after the new year. Tackling these types of cyber hacks head on, Bourns College of Engineering alumnus Anirban Banerjee launched Onion ID, his second tech startup, to help protect companies and their customers from a growing number of cyberattacks that are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Cyber security threats are on the rise with detected incidents having increased 38 percent over last year, according to The Global State of Information Security Survey 2016 distributed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). With hackers continually changing their patterns to avoid detection, current security measures – such as a six-digit passcode to access an online bank account - can no longer protect businesses and their customers from cyber security threats, leading companies to seek new security solutions.

“Making cyber security a priority is important for every company,” said Banerjee. “Installing a system without constantly monitoring its effectiveness leaves businesses susceptible to sophisticated hackers. Companies need a solution that adapts to hacker techniques.”

That’s where Banerjee’s Onion ID comes in. Built after his first startup StopTheHacker.com, which quickly rose to success and was acquired by CloudFlare (a well known anti-DDoS solution) in February 2014, Onion ID offers companies the next generation of information technology (IT) infrastructure security.

Early instances of hacking consisted of individual attackers who targeted people or businesses but, since then, security hacking has grown into a business of its own, fueled by well-funded groups using a variety of discreet tactics to gain access to corporate data.

To identify and combat these sophisticated threats, Onion ID provides layers of customizable security services that recognize the behaviors of individual users within an organization and stops the attack, then notifies IT of unusual behavior. Building on this ability is a service Banerjee calls “privilege management,” which allows company leadership to assign “privileges” to employees for accessing and sharing files. By compartmentalizing access, Onion ID helps quickly detect unauthorized actions.

Major breaches of security – like those at Target and Ashley Madison – are a result of external hackers entering the system remotely to gain access to confidential information. With Onion ID, real-time auditing can detect the origin, device, login patterns of access to a company’s information, immediately notifying an IT team of a suspected breach.

Current security systems can result in an unmanageable number of threats, filling IT inboxes with false alarms – a loss of time and resources that can result in real threats going unnoticed. Onion ID’s layering of security and auditing features investigate incidents in less than half the time that current systems are capable, minimizing the number of false threats sent to IT and reducing the occurrence or impact of an actual breach.

In the two months since Onion ID launched, major brand names are engaging with it to use its services and improve the effectiveness of their IT and Security teams.

“Onion ID makes everyone’s job easier with transparent user log in, enhanced password security and guaranteed regulatory compliance,” said Dan Burke, Senior Infosec Manager at Workday.

For IT and non-IT personnel alike, the daily reports feature helps put information security in perspective, providing statistics such as the number of successful and unsuccessful logins to servers, locations from which people logged into servers, and a time tracker indicating time saved each day with Onion ID’s service.

Banerjee received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering in 2008 under Professor Michalis Faloutsos.

“I love measuring and making sense of what’s going on under the hood of LANs, WANs, WLANs, the internet and anything else computer related,” said Banerjee.  

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University of California, Riverside
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Riverside, CA 92521
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