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Cybersecurity moonshot

Ring Central Blog

Written by Stephen Stewart

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RingCentral’s next-generation cybersecurity initiatives offer career-defining opportunities

Highlights:


It’s never been easier to collaborate and communicate than it is today. But that ease comes with a cost — in cyberthreats. RingCentral plans to meet tomorrow’s security challenges aggressively – with advanced cybersecurity and cryptography technologies that set a new standard for customer data security, while maintaining flawless user experience — worldwide. 

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Big challenges, bigger goals

According to Head of Cybesecurity R&D Daniel Fishkov, RingCentral’s recent purchase of Kindite gives the company the ability to take the lead in cloud security, thanks to a major commitment to leading-edge technology.

“I was attracted to RingCentral by a big challenge—to ramp up the security capabilities of our products and establish a leadership position. One of our immediate ambitions is to build end-to-end encryption into all of our products. That’s a very big technological challenge as well as an organizational one, because it not only needs to be built, but integrated into the fabric of every product.

Not an outpatient procedure

End-to-end encryption ensures all communications data is encrypted at both ends  of the process, i.e. the data center and the end users’ devices. It’s a technique that applies encryption to messages on one device in a way that only allows the device to which it is sent to decrypt it. Every message travels from the sender to the recipient in encrypted form. For a platform as large and robust as RingCentral’s—that’s not a simple task. 

“What we’re doing is the security equivalent of heart surgery,” says Fishkov. “We’re getting deep inside every single part of our product. That’s one of the reasons a lot of other companies are hesitant to do it—because it’s difficult. But when I learned RingCentral was actually interested, I got excited. Originally when I was asked to join the company, I told them I was a startup guy, and not interested in joining a big, public company. But when I heard more about the depth and intensity of this project, that was exciting enough to bring me in.”

Cryptographic DNA

Wanting end-to-end encryption and actually implementing it are two very different things. Which is where Kindite comes in. 

“When we decided to ramp up our security capabilities, we knew we needed to build a team that was equally good at cybersecurity and cryptography,” says Fishkov.

“Moving in parallel to that, we were looking for a vendor who could provide an SDK (software development kit) for cryptographic key distribution in order to develop best-in-class solutions for securely decrypting all this data so users aren’t bogged down.  A lot of that sort of work is happening in Israel, which is where we began to look. We were fortunate enough to discover Kindite, a company already building solutions very similar to what we’re looking for. The team skills were a perfect match, and the existing technology was probably of at least a 50% match, which is quite a lot considering our specific needs.”

Bringing up baby

Why would Kindite’s brilliant entrepreneurs want to share control of their work? To see it perform at scale.  

“When we initially asked Kindite to become a part of RingCentral they were understandably a little hesitant,” says Fishkov,  “because, it’s their work; it’s their baby. But pretty quickly, they came to understand how much potential that baby had working at RingCentral scale. Once (Kindite) understood the magnitude of the project, they said, “Yeah, this is a good match – we love a challenge.” Which makes sense because this isn’t just a one-shot effort—encryption needs to be integrated into the fabric of every product, and then there’s the work of continually improving the performance, both in terms of security and user performance.” 

The challenge is here

There’s no shortage of opportunities in cybersecurity and cryptography. But a truly epic challenge is harder to find. Fishkov thinks RingCentral definitely has one to offer. 

“If you’re looking for a challenge, you look to a place where the situation demands there’s a lot to do. Now, there are plenty of companies with big needs, but not as many that are really institutionally ready to deal with them. RingCentral is, and we’re incredibly serious and committed to reaching the next level of security. Message Layer Security for example  – when you move beyond a one-to-one chat and video meeting, how do you exchange cryptographic keys securely but also at scale? That’s what MLS does. It’s a bleeding-edge approach to video and chat security, and we’re planning to move on it aggressively. In fact, we’ve already got a working Kindite MLS solution for RingCentral Video. That speed and ambition should be attractive to the community – if you want to be recognized as an innovator, as an expert, RingCentral is the place to do it. This is the kind of work that earns world-wide recognition. And as RingCentral becomes more and more of a household name, that’s going to help, too. These are major moves, happening on a global scale, and more and more they’ll be in the public eye. It’s startup-style agility, backed by a big, public company that has massive resources to lend to the effort. That’s a compelling offer, I think.” 

#strongertogether

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