The Cloud Aura Hangs Heavy at RSA Security Conference

Securing the cloud is one of the main themes everyone is talking about this week in San Francisco at the annual RSA Conference.

Asheem Chandna, a partner at Greylock Partners; Bob Ackerman, managing director at Allegis Capital, and George Hoyem, partner at In-Q-Tel, all discussed the challenges and opportunities of providing security to the cloud.

However, when it came time to select a winner of Innovation Sandbox—the half-day program that showcases startups and new security solutions at the RSA—a panel of judges tapped Invincea, a good ole-fashion malware protection company, as the winner of its “Most Innovative Company at RSA Conference 2011” contest.

The Farifax, Va.-based startup, which was founded in 2009 and has just over 20 employees, targets the Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers to help protect computer workstations from Internet attacks. Invincea was one of 10 security-related startups to present as part of the Innovation Sandbox competition.

The startups participating in the program get a chance to present and network at the annual gathering of security professionals, and the winning company gets a shiny new press release to boot.

No pressure. But last year, the Innovation Sandbox competition was won by virtualization security provider Altor Network, which in December was acquired by Juniper Networks for $95 million.

Invincea Founder and Chief Scientist Anup Ghosh told me he was surprised the Innovation Sandbox award didn’t go to a cloud company this year.

“I know, right? It’s all about the cloud. Everyone is drinking the cloud,” he told me while holding the heavy glass award (pictured). “But in addition to figuring out cloud-based security options, which many companies here are doing, we believe that many people are concerned about security at the desktop. That’s where we come in.”

In 2009, Invincea raised an undisclosed Series A round from New Atlantic Ventures and Grotech Ventures. Ghosh says the company is looking to raise a Series B round later this year, which will help the company expands its security solutions for the Android.

Still, the cloud remains what everyone is talking about at RSA. Chandna of Greylock (who was one of six judges on the Innovation Sandbox panel with Gerhard Eschelbeck of Webroot Software; Renee Guttmann of Time Warner Inc.; Ray Rothrock of Venrock; Paul Kocher of Cryptography Research Inc.; and Hugh Thompson, program committee chair for the RSA Conference) told me that most enterprises are not securing their cloud as much as they should be.

“Providing security is always a robust business and it presents lots of challenges for corporations to stay secure,” he said. “Right now, for most business, one of the top concerns is protecting corporate data in the cloud.”