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Ara Labs Improves Cyber-Security

Four years of research by a team of computer science academics at University of New Brunswick has produced a revolutionary product for detecting and fighting cyber-fraud.

Ara Labs is a new startup that is now beta-testing its cloud-based Software-as-a-Service product that its creators say provide more unique intelligence on online threats than other products on the market. It’s quite a claim given that cyber-security is now a $68 billion annual industry and that annual data loss due to cyber-crime is now estimated to be worth about $1 trillion.

“We crawl the web looking for hundreds of thousands of pieces of malicious software each day, and we analyze the intelligence,” Chief Technology Officer Hadi Shiravi told a panel at the Atlantic Venture Forum recently.  “Sixty percent of the threat analysis we provide is unique.”

Fredericton-based Ara Labs was formed by three doctoral students in network security in computer science, and Ali Ghorbani, the dean of their department. They had begun studying and experimenting with cyber-security about four years ago. They designed a system that allows a network targeted by cyber-criminals to identify precisely what the threat is. Once the network identifies the malicious software, it is better able to disarm it.

The company has competitors such as Dell SonicWall, ThreatStop, and Barracuda, but Shiravi said none offers the broad span of protection of Ara Labs, said Shiravi.

About a year ago, they decided to develop a product and form a company. They have been working with a global technology company in their trial and hope this partner will help them to reach out to a larger client base.

The company is now looking for a CEO, which Shiravi hopes will be in place soon, allowing the founders to focus on research and development. They are now finalizing a seed round of financing but declined to discuss how much they are seeking. The founders hope to have their product on the market by the end of the year.

“Our technology is leading edge, our data is unique and our founders are passionate,” said Shiravi.

Ara Labs is one of several companies in Atlantic Canada in which graduate students and/or faculty members in computer science are teaming up to launch a business based on data analytics. Chris Baker, who teaches computer science at University of New Brunswick in Saint John, has teamed up with colleagues to form IPSNP, which is developing advanced software for searching online databanks.

Formed by three Dalhousie University PhD candidates, TopLog of Halifax launched this summer to analyze system data and turn it into intelligence that can save companies time and money and prevent data loss.