The Good, The Bad, The Guardian

As CTO for Zscaler, Amit Sinha tends to win against the constant cyberthreats and keep customers safe.

Imagine being a mobile employee for a global company and needing constant access to the Internet. It’s a reality for many. But now imagine that when you’re on the road the connection can become painfully slow because it needs to run through your company’s virtual private network. Each one of your actions must go through multiple layers of security. Of course, your company needs to protect itself from cyberthreats, but the process of doing so can be immensely frustrating, as well as time-consuming.

This all-too-familiar scenario highlights the impracticality of chaining workers to a security box on the ground in a world that’s continuously moving toward cloud-based operations. It also raises the question: if employees can access documents and applications in the cloud no matter where they are, why shouldn’t their security stack be as seamlessly available? This paradigm shift has created the perfect opportunity for Zscaler.

Zscaler’s name derives from reaching for the zenith of scalability in global, cloud-based security solutions. The company’s mission is to provide secure and productive Internet experiences to major enterprises around the world, and its customers are some of the world’s largest Fortune 500 companies. Zscaler boasts 100 data centers worldwide, providing enough accessibility to eliminate pain points and ensure that security policies are available everywhere business users operate.

Amit Sinha, CTO for Zscaler

“Our mission is to be as close to as many users as possible,” says Amit Sinha, Zscaler’s chief technology officer and executive vice president of engineering and operations. “And we maintain the same hardware, software, and security updates in every location.”

But in a cyberworld that is increasingly as dangerous as it is sophisticated, accessible security is only as valuable as its quality. New, dynamic malware is released every day, and as the use of the cloud expands, new threats become more difficult to anticipate. “The world of security is a cat-and-mouse game,” Sinha says. “You always have to stay ahead of the bad guys.”

At Zscaler, that means analyzing and delivering more than 100,000 new malware signatures and updates on a daily basis. Lately, it also means discovering about 3,000 additional new malware patterns through “sandboxing”—a virtual machine that triggers malware into “detonating” in a controlled environment in order to observe how it behaves. “If it’s malicious, we can propagate its fingerprint throughout the cloud in a matter of minutes,” he says. “So, if malicious patterns are found in one customer’s network, all customers benefit from what we discover in the shared sandbox on the cloud.”

If the Internet is a reservoir of information and ISPs are the pipelines of delivery, then Zscaler is the filter that removes harmful contaminants. But the company isn’t only one protective layer; it’s a sophisticated arrangement of many layers that remove more complex toxins at every level. It’s also a mobile filter, which means that it is not attached to one permanent well, but rather is available wherever users go. Zscaler also ensures that users aren’t drinking from a trickle, but rather a high-performance flow thanks to their processing speed and high number of data centers that provide a short distance to the cloud platform. And not only does Zscaler prevent toxins from coming in, but they keep “nutrients” such as proprietary corporate data from escaping.

In addition to increasing security, Zscaler streamlines access to the Internet and enables customers to monitor and manage bandwidth to ensure that certain applications receive priority over others. Customers save a great deal in bandwidth expenses by eliminating the need to backhaul traffic from remote offices to corporate headquarters. “Our customers buy a license and configure policies in their user interface,” he says. “They no longer have to manage an assortment of security appliances. They simply log onto their Zscaler account to access detailed reports and analytics.”

As both the cloud and customer base grows, Sinha is focusing on ensuring that Zscaler’s infrastructure and capacity can grow as well. He and his team of 200 brilliant engineers and analysts are dedicated to maintaining a safe perimeter around the Internet and monitoring the cloud around-the-clock. “If you have people with the right skills and attitude armed with smart tools, you don’t need an army,” Sinha says.

“For the first time in two decades, someone is disrupting the world of security in a transformational way,” he continues, adding that as businesses continue to adopt the cloud, cloud-based security will inevitably follow in the mainstream. And when that happens, Sinha and Zscaler will be ahead of the pack, leading the way as the largest cloud-based security company on the planet.

Having been born and bred in the cloud, Zscaler is uniquely poised to capitalize on these headwinds. After all, it’s in their DNA, and nothing comes more naturally for the company than climbing to the zenith of scalable security.