An Interview with Igal Zeifman, Director of Marketing, Imperva Incapsula
When the phrase CDN (Content Delivery Network) is mentioned, I think that most of us think of software that makes our websites run faster. However, while that used to be case, things today are not so simple. As I heard in this interview, improved website speed is only one, and not always the most important, feature of today’s CDNs. Learn about Incapsula’s approach to its CDN product and how they see the evolving role of the CDN.
HostAdvice: Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your background. Do you consider yourself more of a technical geek or a marketing geek?
I’m definitely a techie first. On paper it may look like I’ve had several careers, from sci-fi novelist to CTO for an online advertising firm. However, my love of technology is a connecting line between these very different occupations and it still reflects in everything I do.
As I grew to understand myself, I realized that I need to be excited about my work if I want to excel. Today it’s my genuine—almost childlike—interest in technology that drives me as a marketing professional.
HostAdvice: What exactly is Incapsula? While it is positioned as a CDN (Content Delivery Network) your site really emphasized security.
This depends on your definition of a CDN. In the age of slow Internet connections a decade ago, a CDN was something used for scale and website acceleration. But as connectivity improved, the CDN market had to reinvent itself to stay relevant.
Eight years ago, the security pros that built Incapsula recognized that—as a proxy for all website traffic—a CDN is in the perfect place to serve as a website’s “gatekeeper,” deciding what requests can and cannot come through.
This is how Incapsula was born. In addition to accelerating our customers’ websites, today Incapsula also secures them from malicious bots, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and hacking attempts. The service even helps ensure high availability with load balancing and failover solutions.
This is really the new definition of CDN. All newcomers to our industry, as well as many legacy players, are following suite. What makes Incapsula unique is that it’s the only ’security-first’ CDN, as opposed to a CDN having security features. This is our mission statement, our product map, our company culture and our business focus.
HostAdvice: In fact, Incapsula is owned by Imperva—a cybersecurity company.
That’s correct. Imperva is a web application security provider—the only one positioned as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Web Application Firewalls for three years in a row. Incapsula was always an Imperva spin off, and two and a half years ago we became a part of the Imperva product family.
HostAdvice: How do you define your market? Who is your specific target audience within that market?
Generally speaking, Incapsula is for website operators and network owners. As a solution that solves many different problems, we cater to various types of customers—from mom and pop e-stores to Silicon Valley SaaS unicorns and Fortune 500s. The common theme is that these are all online businesses that—for financial and reputational reasons—simply can’t afford downtime, poor performance, or security breaches.
At the risk of being too broad, if you care about uptime, reputation and the experience of your users, you should look into what we have to offer.
HostAdvice: What are the major threats facing websites today? Is it the same for both mom and pop sites as it is for Fortune 500 sites?
That’s an interesting question. To some extent, all websites today face similar threats in the form of automated attacks tools (a.k.a. malicious bots) that are used indiscriminately with the intent of compromising as many domains as possible.
An example here would be an automated attack script that scans the web for WordPress domains and attempts to inject them with malware through some recently disclosed vulnerability. The hope is that some of the hundreds of thousands of targets are yet to be patched.
The domains could be corporate websites, company blogs or very small, privately held sites. As targets, while valued differently, they could all be compromised in the course of the same attack campaign.
Similarly, denial of service (DDoS) attacks are emerging as another indiscriminate threat that endangers the entire Internet ecosystem. Today, anyone with a PayPal account can use a DDoS-for-hire service to launch an attack for as little as $5. With such a low barrier of entry, DDoS attacks are being launched to settle personal disputes, out of spite or simply out of boredom. In such scenarios, every business can find itself on the receiving end of an attack, regardless of its size.
Having said that, larger enterprises face far bigger challenges in the form of targeted attacks that can manifest as highly customized hack attempts, massive DDoS attacks, social engineering assaults, etc. From our perspective, countering these threats is a learning opportunity that can be used to improve the security posture of our entire customer base – large and small websites alike.
HostAdvice: How do you see the CDN /Web Application market evolving in the next few years?
What we are seeing now, and what we will see more of in the next few years, is the merging of CDN and WAF technology, accompanied by the consolidation of both markets.
On the one hand, I expect to see most CDNs offer security solutions, (with the exception of specialized platforms, such as those strictly used for video content delivery). On the other hand, I expect many security vendors to follow Imperva’s example and start investing in cloud-based security services, either through M&As or internal development.
HostAdvice: How do you see Incapsula evolving in the coming years?
Recently we introduced a new service that lets us protect individual IPs from so-called direct-to-origin DDoS attacks. There is nothing else like it in the market, so I expect a big reaction in the next twelve months. In parallel, we’ll continue to expand our offerings both by introducing new features and by improving on some existing ones—including a total design overhaul of our dashboard.
We’ll also be expanding our network by introducing more data centers in strategic locations, including Osaka and Moscow. Incapsula is going to get bigger, better, faster and stronger.
HostAdvice: How many active customers do you have today? Where are they mainly located?
We have over 100,000 user accounts, which adds up to millions of domains and subdomains relying on our service. Much like the global Incapsula network, our customer base is spread across five continents: North and South America, Asia, Europe and Australia.
I can’t say for certain where we have the most customers. What I can tell you is that we do a lot of business in the US, Canada, Japan, China, Hong Kong, UK and Western Europe. We’ll soon be expanding our network into Russia, so I expect it to join that list along with other Eastern European countries.
HostAdvice: How would you describe your typical customer?
Our customer is usually the IT decision-maker within a company. That person’s role may vary, depending on the company’s size and nature. In smaller organizations, we talk to the CEO or one of the co-founders. In a larger organization, it’s usually a CTO, CIO or a CISO.
HostAdvice: Who are some of your biggest customers?
There are many household names using our service. Incapsula protects the websites of some big multinationals, like Hitachi and Siemens, as well as popular online services like Wix, Moz, Liveperson and eHarmony. We secure two of the world’s largest bitcoin and stock exchanges, for whom availability and even performance is absolutely crucial.
Having said that, Incapsula is not just for big brands. This is a service that democratizes security by lowering the price of technology that was once only affordable to the big players.
HostAdvice: How many employees do you have today?
We have roughly 150 people working on the Incapsula product line and over a thousand people working for Imperva.
HostAdvice: How many hours a day do you normally work? What do you like to do when you’re not working?
It’s not really work when you enjoy what you do, so I usually “work” 2–3 hours a day. Seriously though, Incapsula offers a great work-life balance. I get to spend time with my kids, catch up on the latest TV shows and sci-fi novels, and even find a few hours to work out and feed my gaming addiction.