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Axio lands $23M to help companies quantify cyber risk

Axio, a platform for cybersecurity risk evaluation, today announced the closure of a $23 million Series B round led by Temasek’s ISTARI, with participation…

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Axio, a platform for cybersecurity risk evaluation, today announced the closure of a $23 million Series B round led by Temasek’s ISTARI, with participation from investors NFP Ventures, IA Capital Group and former BP CEO Bob Dudley. Axio CEO Scott Kannry tells TechCrunch that the proceeds — which bring New York–based Axio’s total capital raised to $30 million — will be put toward product and engineering team development and supporting go-to-market functions and expanding across “key geographies.”

Axio was co-founded in 2016 by Kannry and Dave White, who say they were inspired by the difficulty companies often have making decisions around cybersecurity investments. Kannry led the cyber insurance team for several years at Aon, while Dave came from Carnegie Mellon and spent the bulk of his career architecting cybersecurity frameworks, including a model — C2M2 (Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model) — adopted by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“We saw how CEOs and boards of directors struggled with even approaching discussions around cyber risk. At that time, the common view was that cyber was fundamentally a technical problem, solved through investments in IT by the people who run IT,” Kannry said in an email interview with TechCrunch. “Now, given the wave of high-profile breaches affecting virtually every sector, industry and size of organization, boards and CEOs recognize that cybersecurity is fundamentally a business problem, which literally requires the discussion of it in financial terms.”

Axio aims to help businesses answer questions like whether they should invest in cyber controls (e.g., endpoint security) versus cyber insurance and how much of a budget a security team needs to reduce the likelihood of a loss, Kannry said. The product produces reports that quantify cyber risk in financial terms without resorting to scores and technical jargon, allowing departments to input information to generate metrics showing how a company is — or isn’t — improving over time.

Startups like BitSight offer similar products that assess the likelihood an organization will be breached. But Kannry says that Axio differentiates through a focus on modeling the impact of cyber scenarios. In other words, Axio worries less about probabilities when evaluating risk and more about their severest effects.

Axio recently introduced dynamic scenarios that let companies model “what if” scenarios to help them understand how to prioritize their security controls. It also inked strategic partnerships with several large cyber insurers, which Kannry says leverage Axio’s platform as part of their cyber insurance underwriting processes.

Image Credits: Axio

“Our platform allows security leaders to baseline their existing security controls, quantify their cyber exposure in dollars and stress-test their insurance coverage to understand if they are sufficiently covered. [It moves] beyond legacy and compliance-driven approaches to cybersecurity to more risk-based models that [look] at cybersecurity holistically and in the context of spending,” Kannry said. “Over the past two years, we’ve seen significant uptick in security leaders leveraging our platform to assess and quantify their cyber risk. Many of our core customers in energy and critical infrastructure, despite spending in some cases millions of dollars per year in cybersecurity controls, began to critically evaluate their cyber programs in the wake of high-profile attacks like SolarWinds and the ransomware-related shutdown of Colonial Pipeline. At the same time, cyber insurers and reinsurers have asked us to provide deeper, quantified risk visibility to support their underwriting teams.”

It’s certainly true that there’s pressure on businesses, particularly public ones, to better manage cyber risk. Earlier this year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission proposed new reporting rules that pertain to cybersecurity postures and policies for all publicly traded companies. While they haven’t been formally adopted, the suggested requirements include periodic updates about previously revealed cybersecurity incidents and disclosures of management’s role in mitigating risk and implementing cybersecurity procedures.

Meanwhile, certain forms of cyberattack are becoming common. According to cybersecurity firm Sophos’s 2022 report, 66% of organizations were hit with ransomware attacks last year, up from just 37% in 2020.

Spurred by these pressures, Gartner predicts that 40% of all public boards will have dedicated cybersecurity committees by 2025.

“Despite significant increases in cybersecurity spending in recent years, cyber threats continue to pose significant challenges for companies across every sector, especially for critical infrastructure operators, who have historically been at the heart of our customer base,” Kannry added. “The rise of state-sponsored cyberattacks, geopolitical instability and ‘ransomware-as-a-service’ have all demonstrated the critical infrastructure sector’s susceptibility to attacks … The pandemic [also] changed the cyber risk landscape for our customers, especially in the critical infrastructure sector. Companies were going remote, enabling remote access for employees and systems and introducing a range of new technologies and collaboration tools that were introducing additional attack vectors.”

The cybersecurity industry, once the VC darling, has been hammered by layoffs recently as macroeconomic factors take their toll. But Kannry says Axio has had no trouble at all securing clients, with a customer base that now totals over 350 companies, including utilities, oil and gas providers and energy grid trade associations.

While he declined to reveal financials, Kannry said that he was “very happy” with the round size and deal terms, which he expects will allow Axio to double the size of its 35-person team by the end of the year. “We have an aggressive product roadmap into 2023,” he said. “[We’ll] be using funds partly to accelerate investments in our AI, machine learning and data science teams to add deeper automation capabilities.”

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Government

‘Ding, Dong Inflation Is Dead’… But Probably Isn’t So Don’t Get Your Hopes Up Yet

‘Ding, Dong Inflation Is Dead’… But Probably Isn’t So Don’t Get Your Hopes Up Yet

Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

“Inflation…

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'Ding, Dong Inflation Is Dead'... But Probably Isn't So Don't Get Your Hopes Up Yet

Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

“Inflation is everywhere a misunderstanding of what actually caused it..“

The pace of US CPI inflation moderated slightly, but it’s too early for the market to conclude rate hikes are over. There are many imbalances still to resolve – especially in consumer credit. Meanwhile, the new UK premier’s clumsy attempts to blame the BOE raise questions.

Markets surged last night on the back of lower-than-expected US inflation. Markets globally rallied, anticipating a slowdown in the pace of Fed Interest Rate Hikes, and a resumption of the long bull Equity market. Bonds rallied. Joy, joy… joy..

Oh dear. It may be well to remember the Happy Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz singing Ding Dong, Inflation’s Dead…” but, that occurs right at the start of the film… before things get “challenging”. I’m not saying End-of-the-World.. just not-quite-as-rosy-as-you-hope!

The pace of US consumer price inflation fell to 8.5% y-o-y, down from 9.1% in June. It’s well to remember what the CPI number shows is fast prices are rising, not how much they have risen – it’s a subtle, but critical difference…

8.5% Inflation means prices are still rising, (Doh!), just less quickly than last month. Rising prices mean the Fed, and other Central Banks still have to address them. (Which is why expecting Central Banks to mellow rate rises/tighter monetary policy on a single snapshot number is a foolish hope.) 8% inflation sounds so much better than 9%, but it’s still inflation; an imbalance between supply and demand that prices are trying to correct. Result: central banks will keep raising rates to stun demand – if they are brave enough to court criticism from politicians.

The US number shows there are still significant inflationary pulses – and concurrent consequences – surging through the US economy. The lower number will focus analysts on just how quickly the inflation pace will start to fall. The oil shocks in the 1970s lasted effectively a decade. The first 1973 shock took around three years to abate, and was followed by an even stronger price shock in 1977 that took till the early 80s to resolve.

A one-month reversal in a longer-term inflation trend is not unusual – it’s far too early to say a one-month slight improvement in the pace of rising prices means the top has been crossed. But the inflation charts do show it is unusual to get consecutive months of declines, and then a sharp increase again. Its more common for inflation to remain stubbornly high for a number of years following an upspike. (That said… in time of “policy experimentation”, like 2010, an upspike was swiftly followed by a down spike.)

What the US CPI number did confirm is the US economy is in a very different place, and a different stage, to Europe and the Global economy. The key difference is the US report showed energy prices are normalising and reducing as petrol prices moderate. Jet fuel costs declined bringing down the cost of travel. In Europe – there is little chance of energy price moderation – if anything consumer energy bills will become increasingly chaotic and damaging to sentiment. Queue the great divergence between US and Europe – and what that means in terms of investment opportunities.

On the other hand; the US numbers show rising interest rates are impacting consumers cash, food prices continue to rise sharply while housing costs are also spiking. Ah… common experiences Europe and the US share.

The CPI numbers suggest the US economy is still in trouble. Over the past few months I’ve been watching things like Auto-loan delinquencies – as rates rise, and car prices surged on the back of availability and supply chain issues (primarily the shortage of chips), car financing costs became increasingly unaffordable. Auto-loan defaults are rising – but they have not become a crisis because – thus far – the used-car market can very quickly absorb repossessed cars. The reality is 20% of US autoloans go to sub-prime borrowers – who are the ones living pay-check to pay-check, and following years of declining real income (and now a crashing real-income shock) lack the financial resilience to keep paying.

Figures from the Fed show US Household debt is increasing – up 2% in Q2 2022 to $16.15 trillion (!). Officially, that’s because of repressed spending during the pandemic.

In reality, it’s cash-strapped US consumers are living off credit. Much of that credit is real: mortgage and auto-lending, but other numbers like credit cards and  from new DeFi lenders showing rising shadow-banking sector lending problems. The default crisis impacting lenders like Klarna comes on the back of cash-strapped consumers using credit to buy their daily milk, bread and petrol. You can’t repossess a bag of shopping.

The inflation driven economic threat in Europe is also about consumers. Years of low incomes, wage constraints, and job insecurity across much of Southern Europe leaves a massive number of consumers with precious few savings. The middle classes have been decimated by rising costs, consumer debt, and taxes.

(It’s a truism: if you can afford a lawyer and an accountant, you can avoid taxes… which is why tax gatherers, like the UK HRMC go for the weakest targets to collect unpaid dues. It takes less effort to extract a million in taxes from 10 struggling middle-class businessmen that it takes to get Amazon to pay a single cent. If there businesses collapse – so what, the tax got its money…)

Who is to blame for inflation?

The UK’s prime minister in waiting, Tank Girl Liz Truss ,says it’s all the Bank of England’s doing. Which is somewhat harsh.

  • I was unaware Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey triggered the Russian invasion of Ukraine after first persuading Angela Merkle to close her nuclear plants and give German energy security to Vladmir Putin. `I though the Energy shock and food inflation shock were exogenous.

  • I was unaware it was Andrew Bailey who decided Tory MPS could give billions of govt money to their chums to not deliver functional PPE to the health service during the pandemic.

  • I was unaware it was Andrew Bailey who came up with (actually brilliant) furlough scheme to preserve jobs and consumer security (that was a very clever civil servant who has got zero credit for his efforts.)

  • I was unaware it was Andrew Bailey who set the government’s spending plans…

What I thought was Andrew Bailey and his colleagues at the Bank of England were maintaining a low interest rate economy to keep the pandemic economy functioning through the challenging pandemic years, and to keep the gilt market looking attractive so the UK Debt Management Office could continue to fund the Government’s funding schemes – all the while fretting about how to normalise ultra-low interest rates put in place to stimulate the economy in the 20-teens without destabilising everything.

Liz Truss doesn’t think so. That’s why she will not be getting my vote. (Not that I have one to give her.. but that’s not the point.)

The point is our next prime minister and First Lord of the Treasury will be chosen by 160,000 rank and file conservative party members. They are generally older, well-off, white, male and Eurosceptic. 63% are male. 80% are in the wealthy ABC demographic. 58% are over 55 and remember the Glory of Margaret Thatcher with religious reverence.

Which is why I think someone has been whispering in Tank Girl’s ear – I suspect the Minister for the Spanish Inquisition (Jacob Rees-Mogg). Now, Tank Girl wants to remove the Bank’s independence and replace inflation targeting with money supply targeting. Christ-on-a-bike: did I just drop through a worm hole into 1981? Big hair, shoulder pads, Duran-Duran and economic disaster…

I fear She opened the door into the Treasury’s Black Museum – and unlocked the box of Tragic Economic Mistakes, unleasing the Zombies of Monetarist Economic thinking like Mad Paddy Mitford (who says her plans are brilliant – unsurprisingly) and Tim Condon. Oh dear. Lord spare us…

If so, then we really are rubber ducked. Monetarism, ahem,  was such a success back in the 1980s – NOT! In the form of Thatcherism, the consequences are today’s broken Britain, the imbalance between London and the regions unknown outside the M25, the rebellious Scots and a host of long-term structural problems.

If someone had unleashed the Zombie Vampyres of Monetarism, then I’ll be sure to carry my crucifix, a sharp pointy wooden stake, and flask of Lagavulin (my holy water) when next in London.

Although its only August, the Christmas shops are already opening. I am tempted to write to Santa now. “Dear Father Christmas… I have been a very good boy all year. Please can we have a completely new UK Government?”

Tyler Durden Thu, 08/11/2022 - 07:20

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Commodities

Bitcoin Is The Best Distraction From This Financial Collapse, Says Franklin CEO

Bitcoin is the best distraction from this financial collapse according to Jenny Johnson, President and CEO of Franklin Templeton. She said that the current…

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Bitcoin is the best distraction from this financial collapse according to Jenny Johnson, President and CEO of Franklin Templeton.

She said that the current status of the economy is really dire, and bitcoin is “the finest diversion” from it. She also complimented blockchain technology as an excellent breakthrough that will soon have a good effect on a variety of businesses.

Franklin Templeton, a multinational investment company with approximately $1.5 trillion in assets under management, was founded in 1947. Along with conventional financial services, the organization also offers cryptocurrency choices.

Bitcoin Is The Best Distraction

The current economic crisis, according to Jenny Johnson, is the best disruption I see occurring to monetary providers at this time, she said in a recent interview. In her opinion, bitcoin, which many have referred to as a hedge against inflation and even as digital gold, could divert customers’ attention away from the problems.

Johnson, though, believes that governments won’t permit BTC to overtake other foreign currency options.

“It’s extra like faith, and individuals are going to debate it,” she argued.

The CEO contends that blockchain technology, however, will actually be a “game changer since she thinks it would have a pretty dramatic positive impact on virtually every industry.

Johnson then reassured consumers that Franklin Templeton continues to offer cryptocurrency services and has no plans to stop doing so.

The Disaster

Since the COVID-19 pandemic spread and caused a health catastrophe a few years ago, the entire world has been suffering. In addition to the millions of lives lost and the disruption of social life, the epidemic also had a negative impact on the world’s financial system.

To keep the economy afloat during the crisis, some central banks (most notably the US Federal Reserve) began creating enormous amounts of fiat money. But two years later, this procedure, together with a number of other factors, caused inflation rates to soar in practically every nation on the planet.

When Russian forces launched a purported “special military operation” in Ukraine in 2022, the situation only became worse. Nearly 25% of Ukrainians fled their war-torn country and settled abroad as a result of the conflict between the two countries.

The West, led by the USA, accused Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, for the assault and severed its financial ties with the largest landlocked nation on Earth. Dubious Russian oligarchs and billionaires were also sanctioned under the guise of being part of Putin’s inner circle.

Russia, on the other hand, stopped supplying gas to some European nations, many of which lack other sources of energy. A contributing element to higher electricity prices is the fact that, when energy prices rise, practically all other prices do as well.

In times like these we really need a lot of distractions.

Read the latest news in crypto.

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Economics

Inflation: A Play In Three Acts

Inflation: A Play In Three Acts

By Simon White, Bloomberg Markets Live commentator and reporter

Today’s drop in inflation potentially sets…

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Inflation: A Play In Three Acts

By Simon White, Bloomberg Markets Live commentator and reporter

Today’s drop in inflation potentially sets the stage for less tightening - or even easing - in the medium term, leading to a resurgence in inflation later in the cycle, eventually requiring a significant re-tightening of monetary conditions. Even if today’s fall in consumer-price inflation means we are over the peak, and it continues to slow, we are still probably only in the first act of a three act play.

The 1970s are an imperfect analogy, but they have one crucial aspect in common with today: the monetization of large fiscal deficits. Runaway inflation is almost always preceded by large government borrowing financed by the central bank.

Both the late 1960s and the last few years saw rising fiscal deficits facilitated by a central bank that thought it had more room to ease than it really did, as was the case in the late 1960s and early 1970s; or one that decided to ignore rising inflation altogether, as the Fed did with its recent maximum-employment/average-inflation-targeting framework.

Once the conditions for high inflation are there, the economy is at the mercy of “events”, whether that be the Arab Oil Embargo in the early 1970s, or the pandemic and the Ukraine war in the current period.

We are now in Act I, where inflation is high and rising. We will soon enter Act II, where a respite in inflation hoodwinks the Fed into believing it can take its foot off the tightening pedal prematurely. This sets the stage for Act III, where price growth stops falling, and takes off again, this time making new highs.

But what’s maybe happening under the surface here? A way to think about this is to quantitatively break up inflation into cyclical and structural components.

Cyclical price pressures should soon start to ease, taking the headline number down. But, as the chart below shows, the estimate for structural inflation is very high, making up almost half the headline number.

If almost half of current inflation proves harder to shake, the cyclical-driven fall in the headline number would only be cosmetically positive. Once the cyclical components start contributing positively again, they would reinforce the stickier, structural inflation, potentially leading CPI to new highs.

This would be Act III, and we know from the Volcker era how that has to end.

 

Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 18:40

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