What Palo Alto Networks and CrowdStrike Teach us About Using a Mobile Defense Platform

By Tom Tovar, Co-creator and CEO of Appdome

There’s a major battle brewing between platform vs. platformization companies in cybersecurity. On either side, cybersecurity heavyweights are racing to offer fully integrated multi-defense platforms that include workforce automation, data and response in one. Either way, point products are quickly fading into the background as these next generation platforms cement the foundation for using AI for better and faster detection, defense and response for everyone.

Let’s understand these principles and apply them to create a better approach to mobile defense. I call it a Mobile Defense Platform.

The Quick History of Platforms in Cybersecurity

We’ve been calling cybersecurity products platforms for some time now. Since 2000, we’ve been using the word “platforms” to describe 1st gen hardware security products. By the mid 2000s, we used the word “platforms” to describe the software as security sitting on top of the hardware we sold. By the mid 2010s, we used the word “platform” to describe the benefit of cloud security offerings. Now, as we step into the mid 2020s, the concept of what it means to be cybersecurity platform is going through its most significant transformation yet.

What’s Platformization in Cybersecurity in 2024+

I’ll credit Palo Alto Networks’ CEO Nikesh Arora for kicking off the debate in his statements on platformization in cybersecurity. For starters, he said “customers are facing spending fatigue in cybersecurity. Adding incremental point products is not driving better security outcomes.” For him, “customers are focusing more on ROI, total cost of ownership and platformization.”

There is a lot of debate out there about what “platformization” means. Short term, the market believes it means bundling and consolidation, including offering some of Palo Alto’s products for free and more services to help customers get full value out of otherwise disparate cybersecurity products. But, importantly, Nikesh also references marching “faster to our aspiration to become the SalesforceServiceNowWorkday of cybersecurity.” Longer term, he’s definitely looking at full out-of-the-box integration between disparate products, adding workforce (work) automation, or single plane of glass efficiencies, for the customer.

What’s a Platform in Cybersecurity in 2024+

More recently, VentureBeat interviewed George Kurtz, CEO and co-founder of CrowdStrike, to discuss platforms vs. platformization in cybersecurity. “What we found is that customers have so many different point products and manual tasks that have to happen [between them],” George said. “When you bring this together in a single platform, with one agent, one console and workflow automation, you get a great outcome.” According to George, there’s a clear advantage to using a single, unified architecture from day 1, including extensibility and a foundation to leverage AI in the near future for better incident response.

The Reality of Mobile Security & Defense

Mobile security is the most fragmented segment of the cybersecurity industry. To protect Android & iOS apps, and the mobile devices these apps run on, brands and enterprises must overcome enormous complexity, incompatibility and work to make sense of – let alone trying to use – 100s of point products. There are different products for legacy protections like mobile RASP, Obfuscation, Encryption, MiTM, as well as more advanced mobile defenses like anti-fraud, anti-malware, anti-cheat, geo-compliance, social engineering defense, MTD, ATO, KYC, Mobile EDR, Mobile XDR, mobile anti-bot, mobile IAM and on and on. To make matters worse, some of these separate products require siloed servers, additional agents, present overlapping features, cause conflict with other services in applications, or introduce mismatches with the mobile app or device they are supposed to protect. Can you imagine being a mobile developer who’s tasked with smashing different security products together? Or a cyber professional trying to use all of this to detect and defend the mobile business in real time?

Using a Mobile Defense Platform (MDP)

Looking at the comments of Palo Alto Networks’ and Crowdstrike’s CEO, it’s clear that there are 10 critical elements for what constitutes a platform in cybersecurity:

  • single pane of glass management and control,
  • single architecture for extensible multi-defense delivery,
  • adaptive automation of cyber defense and outcomes,
  • real time attack data and intelligence,
  • “no hands,” “just turn it on” fully integrated response,
  • compliance tracing, tracking, and reporting,
  • enterprise access, with role-based entitlements,
  • foundation for leveraging newer AI models in detection, defense, and delivery,
  • out of the box integration with enterprise environment (e.g., DevOps), and

(10) Cloud generative (continuous updates and upgrades) at the start.

Like other cybersecurity platforms, the promise of a Mobile Defense Platform includes eliminating the complexity and excessive manual work imposed by point products, including their myriad conflicting designs, agents, servers, SDKs, wrappers, code snippets, enforcement points, and more. Done right, it can unify internal (employee facing and enterprise) and external (consumer facing) mobile security and defense objectives into one cohesive, easy to use automation platform.

Mobile Defense Platforms in 2024+ 

As many know, I have friends at both companies referenced in this post. Between the two strategies, I believe “platforms,” with their single architecture, extensible delivery of multiple defenses and “just turn it on” ease are the better approach. Like Crowdstrike, Appdome started as a platform mobile defense company from Day 1. We use technology, like Machine Learning and an extensible Mobile Security Framework, to code an increasing array of defense features into mobile applications so developers don’t have to. Our platform automates the end-to-end lifecycle of mobile defense for internal (employee facing and enterprise) and external (consumer facing) mobile security and defense objectives and provides a foundation for using AI for detection, defense and delivery

What I like about both “platform” and “platformization” strategies is that they both solve for the cringeworthy complexity that brands and enterprises face trying to keep businesses secure, free of fraud and in compliance at all times. If there are companies out there seeking the “platformization” route in mobile defense, we welcome you to the market. What’s certain is that these days, it makes no sense to spend $1 of scarce cyber budgets on point products for mobile defense, security, anti-fraud or compliance. Platforms are the way, the only way to defend mobile for 2024 and beyond.

To see the Appdome Platform in action at RSA Conference 2024 stop by Booth #2339 or request a demo here.

About the Author

What Palo Alto Networks and CrowdStrike Teach us About Using a Mobile Defense PlatformTom Tovar is the co-creator and CEO of Appdome, a one-stop shop for mobile app defense. He’s a self-taught product creator, mobile app coder, hacker. He’s serves as product advisor on several venture funded cyber companies, and previously as executive chairman of Badgeville, an enterprise digital motivation platform acquired by CallidusCloud, in several executive positions, including CEO, of Nominum, an intelligent-DNS security and services provider that was acquired by Akamai, and chief compliance officer, and operational executive in charge of business and corporate development, legal and channel at Netscreen Technologies acquired by Juniper Networks for $5B. He began his career as a corporate and securities attorney with Cooley Godward LLP. Tovar holds a JD from Stanford Law School and a BBA in finance and accounting from the University of Houston.

May 6, 2024

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