ICSI Launches Broala, a Services Company For Its Popular Open-Source Network Security System Bro

ICSI-funded Broala spinoff will provide enhanced services for large-scale deployments at top businesses, universities and supercomputing centers

BroalaJune 26, 2013
The International Computer Science Institute (ICSI), a leading center for research in computer science affiliated with UC Berkeley, today announced that it is spinning out a services company for Bro, a widely used open-source platform for network security analysis developed by a team of researchers and engineers at ICSI and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

The new company, Broala, will provide commercial-grade services including strategic consulting on network security and large-scale Bro implementations, as well as custom Bro programming. These enhanced services will better support mission-critical deployments by corporations and government entities. The Bro software itself will remain open source and will continue to be maintained by ICSI. 

Broala is the first ICSI-invested spinoff company, and was founded by Seth Hall, Vern Paxson, Liam Randall, and Robin Sommer, all key members of the Bro project. Hall and Randall serve as Broala's co-managers.

“It’s important that we push the envelope not just in fundamental research, but also in applying that research to the industry in an effective, powerful way. Given the popularity of Bro in the security community and the demand for a broader set of services and support, we saw the Broala spinoff as a unique opportunity for us to invest in the future of networking security,” said ICSI’s CEO, Roberto Pieraccini.

Well grounded in more than 15 years of research, Bro has successfully bridged the gap between academia and industry since its inception by serving as both a research platform and an operational network security monitor. Over the years, the Bro project has attracted millions in funding for its research, including a grant of nearly $3 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2010 that enabled the research team to transition Bro to a widely deployed operational system.

Today, Bro is an increasingly popular tool in the security and networking communities and is used to monitor and secure the cyberinfrastructure at a wide variety of sites including universities, research labs, supercomputing centers, open-science communities, government networks and major corporations. Larger deployments include Indiana University and NCSA’s Blue Waters sustained-petaflop supercomputer. Other high-profile Bro users include the 2012 Obama Campaign, Luxottica, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"Bro will provide a next generation deep packet inspection platform as the centerpiece of our solution set necessary for improved visibility to better understand and manage the multi-threat environmental challenges of maintaining a complex network of 13,000 retail and corporate network endpoints across North America," said John C. Knuckles, Jr., Chief Information Security Officer at Luxottica North America.

Vern Paxson, ICSI's director of networking and security research, began development of Bro in 1995 as a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory while also a Ph.D. graduate student. "It's an exciting time for Bro," said Paxson. "The inception of Broala will allow us to much better support the larger organizations using our system, where we're finding amazing levels of demand for Bro-oriented services. At the same time, Bro will continue as a non-commercial, open-source offering for the community, and our goal is to sustain its development in part by revenue from Broala. Thus it's a definite win-win."


About Bro

The open-source Bro network intrusion detection system provides a flexible framework for high-performance traffic inspection. It is primarily used as a security monitor that inspects all traffic on a link for suspicious activity and unauthorized deviations from established security policies. Bro’s extensive application-layer analysis provides deep insight into each session’s actual activity, and its scripting language enables experienced analysts to customize the system’s operation to their needs.

Unlike traditional intrusion detection systems, Bro’s analysis capabilities are not limited to any particular detection strategy. As such, Bro offers a flexible platform for implementing a range of sophisticated, comprehensive traffic analyses that can be tailored to the specific needs of individual sites. 

For more information on the Bro Project, please visit www.bro.org.


About Broala

Broala is a technical services company that provides support and development for companies and organizations using the open-source Bro platform for network intrusion detection. Created by lead researchers of the Bro project at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI), Broala aims to fulfill the growing demand for professional Bro services through consulting, training, support and custom development. Broala is an ICSI-funded company based in Berkeley, California. Learn more about Broala’s services at www.broala.com and the Bro platform at www.bro.org/.