Tines is easing the pressure on cybersecurity teams

2 Sep 2019

Eoin Hinchy. Image: Tines

Our Start-up of the Week is Tines, a security automation firm that allows cybersecurity teams to automate their manual workloads.

Prior to setting up Tines early last year, co-founder and CEO Eoin Hinchy worked on getting two engineering degrees, a master’s degree in security and forensic computing from Dublin City University and an MBA from Imperial College London.

He also spent 15 years working in cybersecurity for the likes of eBay, PayPal and DocuSign.

While working for what he calls “the most attacked companies on the planet”, Hinchy saw a huge need for a platform such as Dublin-based Tines.

Eventually, with the help of co-founder Thomas Kinsella, who was “innately familiar with the challenges that Tines was trying to solve”, Hinchy was able to develop a new platform.

“We have built a software platform that helps companies and enterprises automate their response to cyberattacks,” he told Siliconrepublic.com

The market

“Most companies have a team that is responsible for detecting, preventing and responding to cyberattacks. Depending on the size of the organisation, that team could be just one person, or it could be a department of hundreds,” Hinchy added.

He explained that these teams have a number of technologies – firewalls, antivirus systems and other tools – that detect security anomalies and create an alert. It’s then up to a security analyst or engineer to determine whether the threat is worth responding to.

“These investigations can be complex, time-consuming and error prone. In addition, a company can receive thousands of these alerts per day.”

Hinchy said that this is where Tines comes in. “The Tines Security Automation platform allows security teams to automate their manual investigation steps, regardless of complexity, without writing a single line of code.

“While Tines can be configured for companies big and small, right now we’re mainly focused on companies that have relatively mature cybersecurity programmes.

“These companies will typically already be exploring ways to reduce their manual workloads and increase scalability. They may even have some one-off scripts that they have written, which they want to centralise. For these companies, Tines is the next logical step.”

The technology

When developing Tines, Hinchy and Kinsella knew that their platform needed to be accessible for users with no coding or development experience, enabling them to quickly and easily consume and enrich data from any system. “We solved this challenge with blockchain,” Hinchy joked. “Nah, not really!

“We did, however, have to develop a new approach to how automation platforms work. At the core of this new approach is what we call the Agent Automation Architecture. There are six types of agents in Tines.

“Users take a manual process and break it into small steps, they then use one of the six agent types to perform the step. When an agent runs and performs its action, it passes its results to the next agent in the process.”

This means that, regardless of the process being automated, Tines will use a different combination of the six agent types. The software can be deployed on Tines’ hosted cloud, on-premises or in a hybrid model.

‘The rewards and opportunities to learn are almost limitless. But it’s just so hard’

When asked about the challenges that Tines has faced so far, Hinchy said that there is no shortage of hurdles to overcome.

“Literally dozens of new challenges every day. They vary wildly in terms of scope and impact. Some challenges are big – you can see them coming a mile away, so you’re in a position to prepare for them.

“Other challenges are entirely unpredictable, and sometimes self-inflicted, like forgetting to run payroll – which is something I did last month. Sorry again, guys!” he quipped.

The future

The main goal for Tines is pretty simple, and has remained the same since the start-up was founded. Hinchy and Kinsella just want to make the lives of security teams easier.

“I genuinely believe that working in information security is one of the best jobs in the world,” Hinchy said. “The rewards and opportunities to learn are almost limitless. But it’s just so hard. Two-thirds of people working in security operations centres want to leave because it’s too stressful.

“We know that by automating their repetitive manual work, security teams can focus on higher-impact, more engaging tasks, all of which will increase productivity and, as importantly, foster a healthy and happy work environment.”

The company has been doing pretty well to date, with Hinchy remarking: “I was with a customer a couple of weeks ago and they used Tines as a verb, so I’d say we’re way ahead of schedule! In all seriousness, things are going great.

“We have a bank of exceptionally passionate early customers, including a Fortune 10, an international bank, and several public and private SaaS companies. We’ve also won every bake-off against our competitors, including billion-dollar giants, so we know our approach to solving security teams’ challenges is hitting a sweet spot.”

Looking ahead, Hinchy revealed that there are a number of new features set to ship by the end of the year, which he’s looking forward to getting into the hands of his customers.

Tines isn’t currently seeking external investment, but if the start-up was to seek Series A funding, Hinchy said that this would be done more-so to build strategic partnerships and accelerate existing plans.

“We’ve been profitable since day one and we’re expecting to increase revenue tenfold this year. Being bootstrapped has really forced us to focus on making our early customers successful, which has been so vital to the traction we’ve developed to date.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic