How CyDeploy is using AI to answer one of cybersecurity’s biggest questions

CyDeploy uses AI and machine learning to give cybersecurity teams a safe and secure environment to test new updates

Sep 29, 2023 3 min read

During her nearly two decades working in cybersecurity, Tina Williams-Koroma has heard the same question asked time and time again by potential customers: Will this update cause our current system to stop working?

Unfortunately there isn’t always a clear “yes” or “no” answer and this has left security improvements sitting on the shelves for months at a time—giving cybercriminals an opportunity to target any system vulnerabilities.

“When those weaknesses are published, malicious minds can see what they are,” said Tina, who was recently named a recipient of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. So in 2019, she took the challenge to heart and set out to “develop a tool that can help organizations clearly see the functional business impact of these changes before they make it to production.” With that, CyDeploy was born.

When cybersecurity teams want to implement new protective measures—such as multi-factor authentication or patches for current vulnerabilities—the testing process is typically done manually. Teams will make the update to a live system, then wait to see if anything breaks. Not only are these tests tedious and time-consuming, but they’re usually performed during off-hours to avoid disrupting business operations, which forces security teams to work nights or weekends.

CyDeploy is shattering this deep-rooted status quo. With the help of AI and machine learning, CyDeploy creates a cloud-based replica of a company’s system that allows security teams to test solutions safely, quickly, and securely without having to implement them on a live system. This isolated environment also automates functional tests so teams can immediately see the effects and make updates with confidence.

An illustration of two overlapping circles depicting CyDeploy’s approach to continuous security and operations.

This work earned Tina a $150,000 cash award from the Google For Startups Black Founders Fund which, together with the Latino Founders Fund, has deployed more than $45 million to founders since its inception in 2020.

CyDeploy has the potential to save customers massive amounts of time and money. One customer recently used CyDeploy to model a key security update and reported that the platform helped save more than 200 hours in the testing and implementation of a new security solution. This time saved is crucial as cybercriminals look to target vulnerabilities. When a company waits to update its security, it’s laying out a welcome mat for attackers, according to Tina.

CyDeploy’s approach offers an elegant solution—and comes at an important time. As the U.S. grapples with a shortage of more than 650,000 cybersecurity professionals, many companies don’t have the staff, time, or resources to implement the most basic cyber protections. A test environment like CyDeploy could be a game-changer for overworked security teams that are trying to keep pace with the increasing threat of attacks.

“You have hackers that are able to develop exploits in a matter of days, but companies aren't making changes for weeks, months, or even years.”

Tina Williams-Koroma, Founder and CEO, CyDeploy

The talent gap is exacerbated by a lack of diversity. A 2021 report from the Aspen Institute estimates that just 9% of cybersecurity workers identify as Black, and just 24% identify as women. Williams-Koroma’s career is a prime example of the diversity needed to use AI in a way that solves challenges across different industries.

Tina is conscious of how her role as a Black founder has shaped CyDeploy’s experience, and even its founding. “As a founder who is Black and a woman, it really makes you scrappy,” Tina says. “We’ve all heard about the funding challenges that Black women founders face. I’m very grateful for the funding we’ve been able to get, but it has definitely built within me a certain resilience.”

With additional funding from Google For Startups Black Founder Fund, Tina is focused on investing further in CyDeploy’s sales infrastructure, bolstering its technical team, and raising the salaries of current employees. By doing so, she can help the cybersecurity community—and other female Black founders like herself—go further.

“When it gets hard and I want to quit, I think about the fact that I can’t get others there if I don’t go there myself,” she says.

Learn more about the impact other recipients of the Black Founders Fund are having in their communities, supported by Google for Startups.