Cloudflare, Crowdstrike CEOs Spar Over Future of Cybersecurity Business

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. -- Two prominent executives in the cybersecurity industry on Tuesday debated whether the field is a long-term business -- or instead will be blended into the array of services tech giants offer customers.

Speaking at The Wall Street Journal's WSJ D.Live technology conference, Cloudflare Inc. Chief Executive Matthew Prince said major tech companies like Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google have the scale and resources to make cybersecurity an ordinary feature of their cloud-computing platforms and other services. Much like email-spam protection is part of Gmail, he said, cybersecurity likely will come "built into more and more platforms over time."

Mr. Prince hopes Cloudflare -- which supports and protects websites, handling nearly 10% of all internet requests -- will be one of those platforms, but "I don't think there will be many, if any, standalone security companies that exist."

George Kurtz, CEO of cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike Inc., shot back that hackers evolve quickly and are always trying new methods, a reality that requires the deep expertise of dedicated security firms, he said. "Security is such a specialized sport," he said at the conference. Platforms like Google and Amazon "can't make the very deep, focused investments that security companies can."

Cybersecurity breaches have been a major issue this year, from the WannaCry ransomware that infected more than 200,000 computers in more than 100 countries to the massive hack at credit-reporting firm Equifax Inc. that compromised the personal data of potentially 145.5 million Americans. This month, Verizon Communications Inc. said that a 2013 hack of Yahoo, which it acquired this year, was far more extensive than previously disclosed, affecting all of Yahoo's 3 billion accounts.

Mr. Kurtz said companies like CrowdStrike are needed to protect against such breaches because of their specialized knowledge of hackers' methods.

But Mr. Prince said cybersecurity is becoming easier because of the massive data tech giants are amassing, which enables them to more easily track patterns of behavior and spot anomalies that could be hacking attempts. "Security is really a big-data problem," he said.

Cloudflare was drawn into a controversy over censorship on the internet in August when it pulled support for neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, a move Mr. Prince later worried would set precedent for the company to weigh in on other controversial sites it supported.

On Tuesday, Mr. Prince said Cloudflare was consulting with government officials, think tanks and others on developing a more firm policy to handle such sites, which he said Cloudflare would announce when it is ready.

Write to Jack Nicas at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 17, 2017 19:17 ET (23:17 GMT)