CyberFlow: Securing the Internet of Things

16th December, 2014


  • KeyLines integrated into award-winning cyber security solution
  • Designed to visualize thousands of entities in real-time
  • Cloud and on-premise deployments scaling from mid-size to very large Enterprises
  • Start-up saves five months of development time and costs using KeyLines
A screenshot from the FlowScape manager, showing risky anomalous activity using interactive network visualization built with KeyLines

The ‘Internet of Things’ is growing at an incredible rate, promising to be a transformative shift in the way individuals and machines interact with the world around them. Cisco estimates that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020, allowing the remote operation and monitoring of systems, appliances and infrastructure.

With this comes an unprecedented risk. Many organizations lack adequate cyber security systems required to protect even their existing networks. Adding devices increases the threat landscape and creates a new weakest link, vulnerable to exploitation from malicious hackers.

One KeyLines customer is leading the way in the Internet of Things cyber security race. CyberFlow Analytics is a San Diego-based startup, founded in 2013. Their FlowScape system is an award-winning cyber security platform, designed to empower analysts with 360-degree cyber situational awareness and meet the scale and complexity challenges of the Internet of things.

This case study explains how FlowScape incorporates powerful functionality from KeyLines to provide an intuitive and interactive GUI.

The Problem

FlowScape monitors disparate systems, feeding back real-time anomaly data – or ‘anomalytics’ – that may represent an on-going threat or breach.

Crucially, FlowScape is tuned to uncover ‘low and slow’ attacks – activity designed to go under the radar of perimeter based systems – in real time, running 24 hours a day.

For this to work, the experts at CyberFlow Analytics knew that they would need a rich and effective GUI. The FlowScape analytics-driven threat detection platform would have limited value without an effective way to communicate the output. As Ron Lifton, Head of Product Management at CyberFlow Analytics put it:

“The vision for FlowScape had two vital components from the outset: powerful behavior analytics and an impeccable visual front-end. Only then would network or security operations personnel benefit from pinpointing unusual behavior with complete clarity from day one.”

The Requirements

With visualization forming core functionality of the application, finding the right solution was essential.

  • Performance: the volume of the data running through the FlowScape is immense. KeyLines can handle networks of thousands of nodes in a meaningful way, allowing client-side rendering, easy showing/hiding of nodes and efficient automated layouts.
  • Scalability: FlowScape is designed to be rolled out to users either on-premise or on the cloud. KeyLines can be instantly deployed to unlimited end-users.
  • Customization: CyberFlow Analytics required a white label visualization component that could be fully customized to suit their workflow and branding. KeyLines allows this level of customization.

Ron Lifton summarizes:

“Our FlowScape development team carried out extensive evaluation of the available solutions – including other commercial products and building our own visualization component in house with open source tools. KeyLines was a clear winner. It offers excellent performance, a start-up friendly commercial package and fits neatly into our overall solution architecture.”

The Project

By July 2013, CyberFlow Analytics had assembled their team of data scientists, security architects, software engineers and GUI developers. Working in two-week sprints, the team initially focused on building the solution architecture and behavior analytics models, evaluating various visualization options alongside this process.

By December 2013, CyberFlow Analytics had selected KeyLines as their visualization option of choice and started work building their GUI.

With the help of the extensive documentation and code samples in the KeyLines SDK, the CyberFlow Analytics team was able to build and integrate their whole GUI in just three months.

“Our experience of working with KeyLines and Cambridge Intelligence was excellent. They were responsive, knowledgeable and helpful at every stage of development. We occasionally offshore some tasks and had to triangulate meetings across multiple time zones, but that never seemed to be a problem.

“I would estimate we saved roughly five months of development time and costs, compared with building our own application in-house. For a start-up, time to market is very important, both for selling the product and raising capital.”

The Result

Feedback on the FlowScape system has been excellent. In December 2014, the CyberFlow Analytics team were awarded the Connect Most Innovative Product award for Aerospace / Security Technologies.

By incorporating a well-designed, efficient network visualization component built with KeyLines, CyberFlow Analytics are able to show users what is happening in their networks, as it takes place. The ability to locate the ‘needle in a haystack’ from day one is a huge advantage to organizations that need to protect their network and systems.

The CyberFlow Analytics team is working to further improve their KeyLines front-end for future versions, including incorporating the KeyLines Time Bar component.

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