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Zscaler CEO: Zero trust security ‘is needed’ as cyber threats become more dangerous

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Zscaler CEO and FOunder Jay Chaudhry joins Yahoo Finance Live to talk about cybersecurity concerns from hacker groups and Russian state actors targeting companies and U.S. infrastructure, zero trust digital security architecture, and protecting private cloud services.

Video Transcript

- As the war in Ukraine escalates, what entities are doing there to prepare for the possibility of cyber warfare. Here to discuss, let's bring in Jay Chaudhry, the CEO and founder of Zscaler. Sir, it's become a front line issue, if you will. Ukraine already targeted. How prepared is your company to deal with cyber warfare?

JAY CHUANDHRY: Well, I started this company in 2008 with a single focus. The new world of cloud and mobility requires a different kind of security than the old world. So we got our employees engage with our customers around the globe. I talked to lots of CIOs and CSOs in the past two weeks. Especially in the past one week, that engagement has picked up. Our customers are concerned, and they should be. And we are helping them to make sure they remain safe in today's dangerous environment.

- OK, sir. And you know, tell me if you could, when are cyber attacks an act of war? And what could those attacks look like here at home?

JAY CHUANDHRY: Well, it is kind of interesting to look at traditional war, you see these missiles and guns coming. Cyber war, you don't even know, sometimes, when it's started because it all starts with reconnaissance. Underground activity starts picking up. They start sending these, what I call, botnets to infect your PCs. They become like spies, like sleeper cell. They're collecting information.

And these things can be triggered on when they want because of the presence they have on company computers to shut down, for example, your critical infrastructure, supply chain disruptions. We have seen that in the recent past. And this kind of situation makes it more and more dangerous.

So our job at Zscaler is to make sure we protect our customers. The first thing we do to do so is, what I call, minimize the attack surface. If we hide the applications and systems behind the Zscaler cloud, the bad guys can't find them. If they can find them, they can attack them.

This is the opposite of traditional security the world has been doing for 30 years. The traditional security was castle and moat. So they could target you. They could attack you. They could establish [INAUDIBLE].

So the new architecture, what's being called a zero trust, is needed. Luckily, the Biden administration has been pushing for zero trust architecture. We believe, as the world moves to zero trust, it will become safer.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I'm curious if you see in your business, because you're so close to these companies that you're trying to project, is there one industry or sector that's sort of doing it better than the rest at protecting their infrastructure and their information?

JAY CHUANDHRY: Yeah. So there are certain areas where you have to do it. I have seen financial services company do a better job than others. But in today's world, everyone is doing online business whether you are in pharmaceutical or you are in even a manufacturing, supply chain, retail, health care. All of them need security.

So our customers are across all verticals. We got over 6,000 enterprises, globally. This includes 35% of Fortune 500 companies, just under 30% of global 2,000 companies.

So everyone is vulnerable. Everyone needs security. And our team is focused on making sure we keep on innovating. It's a game with bad guys. You need to stay ahead of it. But the right architecture matters. And then you go from there.

- Do you think our government is ahead of it? Are they prepared to deal with these potential attacks? And you know, some of our grids, for example, the energy grid, is so old and archaic. Are there particular sectors that are more vulnerable to attack?

JAY CHUANDHRY: So some of the sectors, like energy, they hit everyone. So that's why bad guys try to go after those sectors sometimes. You saw Colonial Pipeline attack was an indication of it.

You know, it's unfortunate that some of the critical infrastructure is so old, so far behind, sitting behind old firewall technology. They are being accessed by VPNs. They are in dangerous shape.

Fortunately the administration is stepping up. There was a new notice that came from the Biden administration recently, which said you must submit us a zero trust architecture plan in the next, I think it was about two months, that within two years, you must change over to zero trust architecture from old firewall and VPN based architecture.

So are we safe? We have a lot more work to do to get there. And we are working with federal governments. We have worked with many state and local bodies. Over one hundred federal agencies are Zscaler customers. But a lot more needs to be done.

- All right. We will leave it there. Thank you so much for bringing us up to speed. Jay Chaudhry, CEO and founder of Zscaler.