Pioneering cloud platform aims to ‘democratise security’

Akeero’s automated security solution for software built in the cloud will become a vital tool for companies

Anthi Gilligan of Akeero: ‘If you’re using the cloud, then you can get value out of what we offer.’ Picture by John Allen

Anthi Gilligan loves cybersecurity – she’s been working in the field for more than 15 years. But over the course of her career, encompassing stints at several banks as well as technology firms, she became increasingly frustrated at the inability of security systems to keep up with software developers.

“It was always a struggle being a security person,” she said. “You’re definitely not the most popular person in the room.

“It’s the pain of you, as a human, not being able to work as fast as the software development teams in technology companies. And doing security tasks that could take six weeks – it’s just not good enough when the world has moved onto the cloud.”

Gilligan’s explanation ties into a broader issue facing tech companies seeking to innovate at speed while also protecting software stored in the cloud. In many instances the tools simply aren’t available, and developers often start writing code for a product or service before they identify their security requirements.

In 2020, along with Ciarán O’Keeffe and Stuart Cameron, Gilligan founded Akeero in an attempt to solve this very problem.

Headquartered in Dublin, Akeero claims to be the first automated security platform designed specifically for software built in the cloud.

“We feel we’re going to change the way every team builds and secures their cloud-native platform,” Gilligan said.

Cloud-native security design sounds like a complicated concept, but Akeero says its platform is easy to use and can help “democratise security”.

“If you have an idea for a piece of software you want to create for your company, our tool will tell you within seconds every possible thing that could go wrong,” she says. “And it will give you really clear instructions about how to design it securely.”

By offering pre-emptive security solutions, Akeero believes it can help companies save time and money they would otherwise spend fixing security issues that crop up because a piece of software has not been checked before design.

“What tends to happen in tech companies is a developer will build their infrastructure or product, and at the end they get someone in to test it,” Gilligan said.

“And that person will say: ‘There are 80 things wrong. Go back and fix them.’ And the developer then has to go back and fix things that were designed wrong, and that takes time and pushes project timelines. Nobody likes it, but the solution just wasn’t there before Akeero.”

The Enterprise Ireland-backed company is still in its early stages, but has already raised more than €1 million in funding from backers including Frontline Ventures, a fund that has invested in other successful tech start-ups such as Workvivo, Payslip and Pointy.

It currently employs nine people and, having recently finalised the stable version of its software, is planning to raise between €3 million and €5 million in the first quarter of 2022.

Akeero is “agnostic” about the companies it markets its software to, Gilligan said, and is in talks with a number of potential clients including a large Irish bank and a major electronics company.

“If you’re using the cloud, then you can get value out of what we offer,” she said. “That’s the beauty of it.”