10 to Watch 2018: HYAS Infosec

“Once the hook sets, it becomes your passion. At 2 a.m. I’m on my computer in bed, running some dude down in Colombia.”

Photograph by Joshua Lawrence. Sasha Angus (left), Chris Davis (centre) and Michael Champ (right).

Despite security breaches like the Equifax fiasco, the information security industry has made only marginal improvements in protecting users and networks.

“If someone is shooting at you, you don’t turn around, dig the bullet out of the wall and try to figure out if it was a 9mm or a .38,” says CEO Chris Davis. “You try to make them stop shooting at you. Or you try to get out of the way.”

While most of the security industry is digging for bullets, HYAS watches for shooters — and takes the guns out of their hands.

With a focus on how adversaries use the Internet and its infrastructure to perpetrate attacks, HYAS stops malware from communicating, killing infections at the source. It correlates attacks against other data sets so organizations can see the exact location of their attacker. The day Douglas interviewed Davis and his CMO Sasha Angus, HYAS had just pinpointed an attack issuing from Morocco and were working with the FBI to warn the intended targets — governments and corporations in France.

It’s been a wild ride. Davis launched HYAS from his basement two years ago with a student from Vancouver Island University. With its first customers being Deloitte and the FBI, HYAS now has venture capitalists climbing all over each other in a mad scramble to invest.

Q&A With Sasha Angus of HYAS Infosec

What was your biggest challenge?

We had this expectation that if it was second nature to us, it was second nature to everyone. In the early days, we would pivot off different data sets like we were walking on water, and people were like, ‘Wait a second, stop, how did you do that? What does that mean?’ There’s some education that needs to happen around the product. For a number of the data sets we have, it’s the first time the world’s ever seen them. You need to be able to help people understand what you’re doing.

What was the scariest part of starting up?

You want to cover as much ground as possible and you don’t have the resources that you do later in the process. A lot of it is pants-on-fire: I’ve got to get 18 things done, I can possibly do four of them, and I have to make payroll on Friday for the folks who bought in to the vision, and that’s a week from now … and I don’t have payroll.

All the 10 to Watch 2018 Winners

Avalon Accounting
Club Kwench
Hyas Infosec
Island Circus Space
Stride Properties
The Cookie Guy

This article is from the April/May 2018 issue of Douglas.