Cybersecurity Niche Enabling New Growth for Closter-Based Ericom Software, CEO Joshua Behar Says

[Ericom Software (Closter), a nearly 25-year-old New Jersey technology company, has recently seen its fortunes rise with its development of new products in the cybersecurity space. Founded by Eran Heyman, who is now the company’s chief architect and chairman, Ericom has about 20 employees in New Jersey and many more around the world. Its new product, Ericom Shield, recently earned the company recognition from research and advisory firm Gartner (Stamford, Conn.) as a leading Representative Remote Browser Isolation Provider. NJTechWeekly.com recently interviewed Joshua Behar who has been Ericom’s CEO for four years.]

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment as CEO?

JB: My biggest accomplishment has been finding a new growth engine for the company in the cybersecurity space. We believe that what we have here is unique and that we are solving a major problem that puts organizations at risk. We see strong indications from Gartner and other industry analysts who believe this will be big.

Q: How did you discover the new market that is giving Ericom the boost it needs?

JB: When I joined the company, I decided to examine the basic questions, such as why customers were purchasing our products and what value the products brought to customers. Basically, the products were selling themselves. The sales people would say that individuals would call in with orders, ask how much it costs, and they would send the product to them. They told me, “We don’t talk to the customers too much because they’ve already made the decision to buy.” So one of the first things I did was put in Salesforce.com, and we started asking questions when people purchased our products. We realized that there were many interesting ways customers were using Ericom’s software. For example, some of our customers were using it to connect remotely when there were storms and they could not commute to work, or when they worked from home. We asked them about the alternatives to our products they had considered, and we learned a lot.

One of the use cases that was mentioned in passing, and which excited me, was secure internet browsing. At the time, we didn’t have a good solution for that, and I decided that we should build a new solution to address this situation. We worked on it for a couple of years, invested quite a lot in it, and we released the offering in Q4 2017. We have seen a healthy adoption of the product and double-digit growth in this domain.

So, in essence, we initiated growth by listening to our customers.

Q: Tell me about the problem you are solving.

JB: We are trying to address a quite dangerous phenomenon. When you surf the web, most people believe that the websites they browse are safe. Yet, even if you surf only legitimate sites, a hacker may have been able to insert malicious code into the website. Theoretically, malicious actors can manipulate the websites by inserting JavaScript or CSS code that infects your browser the minute you browse the site, even though everything looks fine to the naked eye. The malware begins to work in the background immediately. And all too soon, you find ransomware or other malware on your company’s network. … Many organizations utilize software that prevents employees from going to known problematic sites like gambling or pornography, but that software doesn’t prevent employees from going to ordinary reputable sites, which can also be infected.

Q: So how is your new product different?

JB: We enable companies to let their employees surf safely. All surfing outside the organization network is done in containerized virtual browsers. The minute the individual stops surfing, we throw the container away. It’s as if you are using protective gloves, and you toss them after you use them. This is a very safe way to browse: It’s not intrusive, and nothing needs to be installed on users’ browsers or computers, which is a major concern for large organizations that don’t want to have to install anything on all the devices they own. We install Ericom Shield software on a server that can be owned by the company or hosted, and route all browsing traffic to it. Or it can be installed in the cloud. The nice thing is that there is no noticeable difference in the user experience. You just open your browser and continue to work as you did before, with your regular cookies and bookmarks.

Q: What is your competition doing?

JB: Gartner puts us in a category called Remote Browser Isolation and estimates that this technique will be adopted by 30 percent of the market within a short time.  We have our eyes on two other companies in this niche area. One is a small startup that was acquired by Symantec [Mountain View, Calif.] for $250 million and another is a Silicon Valley startup that raised $40 million in the last round. So we are in good company, and see strong indications that we are going in the right direction. Right now, we are engaged in a request for information from the Department of Defense. I think the fact that the DOD is examining this technology to better serve its 3.1 million users around the world is a huge acknowledgment of its value and importance.

Q: How do you plan to execute your projected growth?

JB: Our model is to work through partners. We currently work with numerous partners, including several in the New Jersey area. We are signing up new partners for the cybersecurity products and are working now to train them in the technology. We will also be adding more people internally on the technical side to support our partners. We expect channel marketing to spur our next wave of hiring, including support engineers.

Q: What does your company think of New Jersey as a place to grow?

JB: New Jersey has been very good to us. It is a great place to do business. Our location is very convenient, with great access to all the airports and freeways and a high concentration of large businesses in our domain. That is one of the reasons we’ve been here for so many years. It’s a great place for us. And we recommend it to other companies when they ask us about doing business here. We have also been able to find good people and the talent that we need in New Jersey.

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