Pressure from cloud computing giants like Amazon forced Akamai's CEO to shift focus to cybersecurity

Key Points
  • Pressures from cloud giants, like Apple and Amazon, have pushed cloud-based services provider Akamai into the business of cybersecurity.
  • The cybersecurity division experienced rapid growth last year.
  • CEO and cofounder Tom Leighton feels confident that revenue will continue to grow in the face of evolving cybersecurity threats.
Akamai Technologies CEO on improving cloud security
Akamai Technologies CEO on improving cloud security

Akamai CEO and co-founder Tom Leighton said the Equifax breach helped fuel the growth of the cloud service provider's own security product, as the company makes a big push into cybersecurity.

"Our security business is growing at a very rapid clip," Leighton said in an interview on CNBC's Squawk Alley.

But one thing that prompted Akamai — a company whose main business has been managing web traffic at busy sites — to shift much of its focus to the cloud security business was increasing pressure from other giants in cloud computing, like Apple and Amazon. Increasingly these tech giants are finding in-house solutions for traffic management, he said.

The security portfolio of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Akamai is experiencing rapid growth, he said. It grew 27 percent, year-over-year, to $121 million in revenue, making it the fastest growing portion of the company, according to Thomson Reuters.

Leighton attributes this growth, in part, to increasing cybersecurity threats.

"I think we have a long way to go in terms of security, you can look at the headlines to see all the damage they're causing," Leighton said.

As Equifax's July breach proved, it only took about two months of flawed security to exposed the personal and financial information of nearly 143 million Americans.

Akamai's product, Kona Site Defender, is designed to prevent exactly the types of threat that brought down Equifax. Leighton said he felt Kona could have "easily stopped" that type of breach.

And Leighton isn't concerned with revenue from security solutions drying up.

"When it comes to areas like security, there is no choice, they have to defend themselves. The attack landscape is evolving very rapidly," Leighton said.

Akamai is ramping up to accommodate increasing security threats, researching new measures, like nano technology, that don't focus solely on perimeter defense.