Corellium: Modernizing ARM-based Cybersecurity With Virtualization

soo jin park - Corellium: Modernizing ARM-based Cybersecurity With VirtualizationSoo Jin Park joined Cisco Investments in 2021 and focuses on acquisitions and investments in the Cybersecurity space. Prior to joining Cisco, Soo Jin was an investment banker at Jefferies Technology M&A group in New York, where he advised leading technology companies and private equity firms on M&A transactions. Prior to Jefferies, Soo Jin was a management consultant at Arthur D. Little, focusing on corporate strategy assignments. He served in the Republic of Korea Army.

Today, if an enterprise wants to perform vulnerability testing on Arm-based devices like smartphones, wearables, an AR device, or a router, they either have to build their own physical labs or ship hardware to a specialized testing location.

Not only is this a cumbersome and costly process, but it also limits the accuracy of threat assessments, impedes security, and slows development.

So in 2017, four tech powerhouses — Amanda Gorton, former CEO and co-founder of Android and iOS virtualization company Virtual; Chris Wade, Virtual co-founder and creator of the iOS emulator iEMU; Stanislaw Skowronek, Virtual co-founder and former GPU architect at ATI; and David Wang, former Senior Security Researcher at Azimuth Security — got together to tackle the problem.

They had a vision of virtualizing Arm-based devices, similar to how server virtualization disrupted enterprise IT and paved the way for cloud computing.

Gorton and Wade recognized the difficulty of testing and developing mobile software. Wade had already created the iEMU emulator, but the couple knew Arm technology held the answer to providing a faster, more efficient means of virtualizing devices. After they sold Virtual to Citrix in 2014, the two set their vision into motion.

The four co-founders came together to build their platform, and by January 2018, the company had its first customer, Azimuth Security.

When Amazon Web Services released its Graviton2 processors in 2020, signifying a major breakthrough in performance and capabilities over its first-gen Graviton1, the update provided just the tailwind Corellium needed to get its cloud product launched on Graviton servers.

By October, a core group of Cisco’s security engineers met with Corellium and were immediately impressed with not only the problem the startup was solving but also the traction they had made with marquee enterprise customers.

Now, as part of Cisco’s Aspire Fund, a venture fund dedicated to investing in female and BIPOC-led emerging enterprise technology companies and venture funds, Cisco Investments is proud to announce its participation in the Series A funding round for this groundbreaking, female-founded security startup.

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Bringing Mobile & IoT Software Development into the Modern Age

Popular for powering everything from smartphones and wearables to IoT digital devices and servers, energy-efficient, high-performing Arm processors represent an unexplored frontier of technology that Gorton expects will drive the future of computing.

Arm CPUs are everywhere — in our homes, cars, workplaces and our pockets — and they’re rapidly growing. More than 200 billion chips are currently being shipped with a trillion projected to hit the market by 2035.

These versatile, lightweight microprocessors are collecting a great deal of intimate data, so it’s critical that they’re well-tested and secure.Yet, despite their popularity and widespread usage, Gorton says software development remains “stuck in the Stone Age” and testing and security have suffered as a result.

“The problem we’re trying to solve is to modernize that process and accelerate it so that businesses can deliver software and hardware faster to keep up with consumer demand, and we’re doing that through virtualization,” she says.

Tasks as varied as building a new robot, testing the security of a mobile app, or analyzing malware still rely primarily on physical devices or emulators.

Corellium, on the other hand, empowers software developers to build, test and secure everything within the software lifecycle using Arm-native virtualization in lieu of outdated physical devices or slow, inaccurate emulators.

“I think we’re doing something that’s genuinely revolutionary,” says Gorton. “It’s different from what’s out there on the market today. It surprises people. We’re enabling customers to do things not only more efficiently but also things that they just couldn’t do before with physical devices or emulators.”

For example, the product allows an IoT vendor with a router or a robot to run a virtual model of an IoT device alongside virtual models of an iPhone or an Android phone. “So you can run the IoT companion app -— your setup or controller app -— on the virtual phone alongside your virtual IoT model and start to test in automated ways, which is something you can’t do with physical hardware,” says Gorton.

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To date, Corellium has received great feedback from security, quality assurance and hardware engineering teams who recognize the cutting-edge tech for its competitive advantage and agility. Gorton notes, “We get a lot of “wows” and “that’s pretty magical” from our customers.”

Corellium Culture: Taking a Cue from Bill and Ted’s “Be Excellent”

Corellium builds its solid company culture around three core values, “integrity, compassion and respect.” But to Gorton, it’s not only about the what but also the how that builds a great tech company.

She likes to borrow a line from the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” to sum up in two words the everyday ethos of Corellium’s team: “Be Excellent.”

“It’s about being excellent to each other, and to our customers,” she says. “It’s about delivering excellent work and a game-changing product.”

This mantra transcends everything, including recruiting. “At Corellium, I tend to say we hire ‘wizards.’ These are people who are at the top of their game and incredibly talented. At the same time, we tend to attract people who are down to earth and humble. They don’t feel a need to prove themselves, but they make magic happen anyway,” says Gorton.

Most recently, the team welcomed Anthony Ricco, former CMO at Blackberry and DigitalOcean, as its new CMO and added Mark Templeton, former CEO at Citrix, to the board of directors.

“We’ve also expanded our engineering team with some really talented folks,” says Gorton. “I think our team is one of the strongest enablers that we have.”

What’s Next for Corellium

Cisco Investments is excited to support Corellium in its next phase of growth, as it looks to ramp up its IoT and cloud offerings in 2022 and beyond.

Gorton, too, is excited for the opportunity to collaborate with Cisco on mobile and IoT security solutions.

“Cisco is such a trusted and well-regarded industry leader in enterprise solutions, especially in enterprise security. As we look ahead, there is so much opportunity to innovate and develop solutions in the malware analysis and mitigation space,” she says. “It’s an exciting time to collaborate.”

If this two-time tech enterprise CEO could write her company’s lasting legacy in the future, she says Corellium will be long known for “Arm virtualization.”

“Arm powers so much more than mobile and IoT. It is powering the future of computing,” says Gorton. “As the virtualization solution for all things Arm, Corellium is helping to make this revolution a reality.”

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