Core Security Looks Beyond Pen Testing

The exploit-creation and penetration-testing firm hires a new CEO to drive its push into newer markets.

Less than a year after an executive reshuffle prompted questions about its direction and viability, Core Security Technologies has hired a new chief executive to pilot its push beyond the niche penetration-testing market.
Core Security, which employs about 130 people in offices in Boston, Mass., and Buenos Aires, Argentina, has tapped former Sophos executive Mark Hatton as its new CEO amidst strong hints that new technology pieces could be added to position the company as more than a specialized vulnerability scanning outfit.
"We have a really good opportunity to rise above the niche pen-test market," Hatton said in an interview with eWEEK. "We already provide very valuable insight as to where vulnerabilities lie and show [an enterprise] the extent of damage that can occur. We can add a few pieces and provide a much more unified view of how well the security infrastructure is working."
Hatton declined to discuss future strategic moves, but a quick glance at his track record at Sophos, an enterprise-facing anti-virus vendor that successfully repositioned itself as a full-fledged endpoint security player, suggests that Core Security could be moving in that direction.
"We are in a position today where [Core's] technology is good and the marketplace is generally opening up," Hatton said. "If you look at the evolution of Sophos, it was a specialized anti-virus company in the beginning and then it redefined endpoint security and NAC-type offerings. I see Core taking a similar path. We'll define and evolve this market beyond pen-testing."
Core Security has taken in $9 million in two rounds of venture capital financing to build and market Core Impact as the most comprehensive product for assessing an organization's ability to detect, prevent and respond to information security threats. Core Impact, which sells for about $25,000 per seat, includes exploits that can be used to simulate real-world hacker attacks against network servers and workstations, user systems, and Web applications, promising help to find and fix security issues before data incidents occur.
It is a specialized niche market that's potentially lucrative, but the emergence of cheaper-and even free-alternatives has put Core Security under the microscope. In July, when news leaked out that CEO Paul Paget and Product Manager Max Caceres were leaving the company, analysts at The 451 Group immediately issued a report questioning whether Core Security's bet on a turnkey approach to pen testing was paying off.