Internet pioneer: Cybersecurity is currently following the 'definition of insanity'

Julia La Roche
·Correspondent
·3 min read

MIAMI, Fla. — Legendary Miami-based internet entrepreneur Manuel “Manny” Medina is warning that problems related to companies securing sensitive information are being made worse by outdated network security solutions.

“Cybersecurity is an epidemic right now," Medina, 68, told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview. "The definition of insanity is you do the same thing and expect different results, right? That is really what’s been happening in cyber.”

Medina, who helped build the global internet's infrastructure, founded the global private equity firm Medina Capital to invest in ascendant technology companies in 2012. Two of the cybersecurity companies in those portfolios, Appgate and Cyxtera, will be making their public market debuts this year.

Appgate is a secure access service built on Zero Trust principles — a network architecture concept involving segmented and user-specific focus — that will go public in a reverse merger with holding company Newtown Lane (NTWN) at a post-money valuation of $1 billion. Cyxtera Technologies, a global data center operator, will go public via a SPAC transaction with Starboard Value Acquisition Corp (SVAC) at a valuation of $3.4 billion.

Manny Medina, founder of eMerge Americas, addresses attendees during the opening session of the first eMerge Americas conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida May 5, 2014.  REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson   (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)
Manny Medina, founder of eMerge Americas, addresses attendees during the opening session of the first eMerge Americas conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center May 5, 2014. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson

Medina asserted that the increasingly fractured global IT infrastructure environment — consisting of multiple clouds, data centers, third-party facilities, and people working remotely — creates both vulnerabilities that Appgate aims to protect and opportunities for secure network links that Cyxtera aims to provide.

“[AppGate’s] software protects you and your network regardless of where your infrastructure resides,” Medina said, noting that its software can be used regardless of the setup, whether a company has its own data center, multiple clouds, or people working remotely.

Medina stated that traditional VPNs are outdated since they're not designed for users to access today's scattered infrastructure environment. Consequently, the argument goes, most VPNs create an opportunity for perpetrators to obtain access to a network and move around unnoticed.

Appgate displaces VPNs and firewalls by creating "an encrypted tunnel between you and whatever you’re using so that you don’t see anything else on your network," Medina said.

In November 2019, Appgate was spun out of Cyxtera, which offers secure data centers and cybersecurity services. As CEO of Terremark Worldwide in the 1990s, Medina built infrastructure for telecommunication companies in the form of “telecom hotels” — facilities where various internet carriers could rent space. (Verizon, Yahoo Finance's parent company, bought Terremark for $2 billion in 2011). Cyxtera is an evolution of that fundamental technology.

Rapper Pitbull rings the Nasdaq closing bell, joined by L to R: Mark Hoffman (CNBC President), Manny Medina (eMerge founder), Nick Deogan (SVP and EIC, Business News, CNBC), Xavier Gonzalez (ED of eMerge), Melissa Medina (VP of Business Development, eMerge) and Jose Diaz-Balart (anchor, Noticiero Telemundo) at the eMerge Conference on May 4, 2015.
Rapper Pitbull (Center) rings the Nasdaq closing bell joined by (L to R): CNBC President Mark Hoffman, Manny Medina, CNBC Business News EIC Nick Deogan, eMerge ED Xavier Gonzalez, eMerge Business Development VP Melissa Medina, and Noticiero Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart on May 4, 2015.

And according to Medina, the Zero Trust architecture services that AppGate and Cyxtera is an answer to the new challenges of the modern internet ecosystem.

"I've been in this business for a very long time, I started this thing, the internet revolution, if you will, in the 90s," Media said. "What really is exciting for me today is that I've seen all these major, massive dislocation in technology... And so new companies have emerged [and] the most critical parts of this entire infrastructure is security."

Medina believes that "there's a whole transformation that is going on in cyber that is long overdue," and he is convinced that companies like AppGate and Cyxtera will be at the forefront of protecting hybrid infrastructure and remote access to resources.

"We have the best software going head-on against our competition today with a very incredible portfolio of customers — very large enterprises, government agencies," he said. "And that revolution is here. It’s irreversible."

Michael B. Kelley contributed to this report.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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