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Cyber Pioneer Claims Cure for Cyberattacks

Stuart McClure, a leading cybersecurity pioneer, said he can now foil all cyberattacks.

If true, the product, from the chief executive’s Qwiet AI, that he claims could do so, carries the prospect of upending virtually every sector of business, the military, government and society, all of which have been increasingly plagued by ransomware and other attacks on the world’s computing infrastructure.

“In effect we prevent all cyberattacks,” the Newport Beach resident told the Business Journal on May 2, before the RSA Conference on cybersecurity last week in San Francisco.
McClure said his new software, called AI AutoFix, is designed to prevent cyberattacks by providing developers with suggestions for fixes or improvements after AI finds insecure or vulnerable code.

“Cyberattacks begin and end with code,” he said, referring to the programming languages that instruct computers on how to function.

“The first step is catching it,” he said. “Finding a vulnerability somewhere. We do that with AI.”

Then comes suggesting a fix, followed by the fix itself.

Reservations

To be sure, in an industry that has earned a degree of skepticism in response to frequent announcements of new products their purveyors routinely label as revolutionary, some counsel caution.

“Over-relying on AI can lead organizations into a false sense of security,”

Aurimas Bakas, CEO of Vilnius, Lithuania-based Cyber Upgrade, a provider of AI-driven cybersecurity products, said in a recent statement not directed at Qwiet’s new program. “If not properly managed, AI systems might overlook nuanced or emerging threats that have not been previously encountered or adequately defined.”

That said, McClure tends to be accorded an unusual degree of credibility based on his having piloted the Irvine-based Cylance to the head of the cybersecurity field more than a decade ago.

Warp Speed

According to McClure, AI AutoFix begins by identifying vulnerabilities in existing codes. Because the analysis is done by AI, it can be accomplished much more quickly than such work typically takes humans, he said.

The threat detection scan typically takes 90 seconds, according to Qwiet AI. Then the software gives engineers a list of vulnerabilities and appropriate code fixes.

“We keep up with all the vulnerabilities, we keep up with all the best ways to fix. And we do it automatically,” McClure told the Business Journal last year.

“I see with Qwiet the ability to prevent against 100% of cyberattacks by empowering developers to code securely,” McClure said last year.

The target customers are commercial businesses, who pay on a subscription basis. Qwiet has more than 70 customers, including such companies as Angi, BlueVoyant, Exelon, PureStorage, Tavant and Blackstone, though Qwiet did not say which may be using AutoFix. Qwiet AI, a privately held company, does not disclose revenue figures.

McClure joined the company, formerly known as ShiftLeft, as CEO in August 2022.

Qwiet, based in San Jose, has raised $58 million from investors, including Bain Capital Ventures, Mayfield, Thomvest Ventures and Syn Ventures. It now has about 40 employees working largely virtually, according to McClure.

Common Sense

While introducing a cutting-edge cyber-fighting tool, McClure also stresses the role of common sense.

“I’ll tell you—there’s a secret to cybersecurity,” he said. “99.9% of all the attacks out there are completely avoidable without any technology whatsoever.”

That can be as simple as just not opening every e-mail attachment and not clicking every link—educational warnings that are constantly repeated and often ignored.

Industry Credentials

McClure co-founded internet security company Cylance in 2012 and sold it in 2019 to Canada-based BlackBerry Ltd. (NYSE: BB) for $1.4 billion.

He served as president of BlackBerry Cylance—later renamed BlackBerry Cybersecurity—for eight months following the sale.

He has also held high-level roles at McAfee, a leading internet security company, among other positions as well.

McClure is also a founder and CEO of the Newport Beach-based NumberOne AI, which aims to apply “predictive AI to the world’s toughest problems.”

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