TechConnect: Phalanx Protects Data in New Era of Remote, Hybrid Work
This month’s TechConnect Profile is highlighting Arlington-based Phalanx. Founded in 2021, Phalanx provides security & visibility to data outside databases so businesses can focus on growing without worrying about increasing their cyber risk. Phalanx’s product, MUZE (Monitoring Unstructured data with Zero trust Encryption), can be deployed in minutes and starts securing data out-of-the-box. In 2021, the company was selected to be a part of Techstars NYC.
Arlington Economic Development caught up with Ian Garrett, Co-founder and CEO of Phalanx, to discuss their company, and the advantages Arlington offers to technology startups.
Can you tell us more about Phalanx and how you work with organizations to reduce their data breach risks?
Ian: We founded Phalanx in response to one of the major issues in cybersecurity during the shift towards remote and hybrid work, which was the spike in data breaches that resulted from the antiquated approach of perimeter-based security. The definition of a cyber perimeter is increasingly unclear with remote workers, SaaS application integrations, and external vendors/services accessing assets. We found that leaders had no visibility or security of data outside of their databases, and that existing solutions to securely transfer data was highly cumbersome. The best way to ensure data is protected is by taking a data-centric approach to security. Ultimately, data should always have protection and tracking as it travels in and out of an organization. To provide both security and visibility in a way that worked alongside businesses we created MUZE.
Phalanx MUZE provides data analytics, tracking, and visibility over files and unstructured data, which is currently difficult to track but provides significant cyber risk to an organization. We also leverage automation to individually encrypt at the file level without burdening users or requiring classification, policies, or security decisions. One major challenge CISOs and business owners often face is a lack of personnel, so we knew our platform needed to not only be effective, but it had to work without needing additional hires.
The platform consists of an endpoint and web application. The endpoint application and its integrations (Outlook/Gmail, OneDrive/SharePoint/Google Drive, MS Teams) work in the background to automatically encrypt data at the file level and enable secure, trackable sharing across each of those environments. This automated file-level security allows users to work securely without hindering productivity, doesn’t require users to learn new behaviors, and doesn’t require them to make security decisions. The endpoint application gathers meta-data and sends it to the web application where leaders can view risk and understand all aspects of how their unstructured data is accessed and shared across the organization, regardless of location.
Where are you seeing the biggest growth in your company? What is Phalanx’s growth plans for the next 12-24 months?
Ian: We’ve been excited to see growth for Phalanx in a couple of key areas where we know we can make the biggest impact, such as with small businesses & startups, and throughout teams at large-scale enterprises. When we created Phalanx MUZE, we wanted a platform that could scale with organizations of any size. Most data security solutions are either designed for single users or small teams or are only effective when used across a large organization, but we wanted to be able to serve all sizes with Phalanx.
Our growth with small businesses & startups is due to the fact our solution is designed in a way that users intuitively know how to interact with the product since everything is done at the file level. Small business owners and startup founders have significantly limited time, so we allow them to immediately decrease their cyber risk without the need to figure out how to implement the system, need to hire security personnel, or purchase additional infrastructure. We found that they can grow their teams without worrying about growing their cyber exposure.
With large-scale enterprises that have extensive cyber solutions, we’re having our greatest growth with specific teams in the organizations. They often have extra sensitive information and know exactly which users and roles interact with the data. In this case, they want to ensure those teams can operate as productively as possible without sacrificing security. They also usually have effective systems that analyze usage data and are excited to extend those capabilities to files across their organization with Phalanx.
Our next 12-24 months will be focused on increasing our presence within organizations that we’re finding the greatest need. An added benefit of multiple organizations using Phalanx is that MUZE enables them to not only securely operate within, but also allows for cross-organization collaboration without a break in security. Part of our pathway towards that is our integrations into solutions where data is accessed today. We’ve recently released our OneDrive, SharePoint, and Google Drive integrations so users can have the same ease of use as their desktops, but we will soon be releasing on Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and Gmail, as well as a handful of others to make the experience even more transparent.
As a technology startup, what are the biggest advantages you see to having your business located in Arlington?
Ian: Arlington has been an outstanding location to operate as a tech startup, especially in the cybersecurity industry. There are three key factors of Arlington that we’ve been able to really leverage as we’ve grown: access to talent, collaboration with other tech companies, and availability of cyber industry leaders.
One of the major challenges a tech organization faces is the constant need for tech talent as the company grows. It has been incredibly helpful to meet and interact with tech talent in Arlington. There are many parts of the county that attract tech-forward professionals and we’ve been able to easily meet up with them without needing to travel far. The general increase of tech companies in the area also compounds the benefit as more services we require become available.
Phalanx has also benefited from the large number of other tech companies in the area, both startups and large established companies. A healthy startup ecosystem is great for companies that are just starting out because many of the challenges are similar so having others to learn from is a gives you a great advantage. Similarly, large technology companies often have partnership programs that assist and advise tech startups.
Arlington has a great critical mass of cyber industry leaders, which allows Phalanx to stay plugged in with the latest evolutions in the field. Phalanx was founded because of the need to address today’s cyber challenges and a critical component of Phalanx’s future growth is tied to staying on the leading edge of development. The large number of cyber leaders also has given us a great advantage as we seek mentors and advisors since we’re easily able to meet with them in person.
We’re looking forward to continuing growing in Arlington and having a physical office presence in one of the growing tech hubs of the region.
For more information on Phalanx visit https://www.phalanx.io/. If you are a startup tech company looking to launch or grow your business in Northern Virginia, please visit AED's resource page and contact Adam Henry, Business Development Manager, for more information.
About this Profile Series
Arlington's startup ecosystem has been rapidly expanding over the past five years and is quickly becoming recognized as an established innovation hub in the United States. Since 2015, Arlington-based companies have raised over $1.6 billion in venture capital across 155 deals covering several industries, including software, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, fintech, big data, digital media, and more. AED launched its monthly TechConnect Profiles to highlight and profile companies in our technology startup ecosystem.