Investment into cybersecurity companies nearly doubled from 2016 to 2018, with investors pumping $5.4 billion into ventures addressing threat mitigation, according to Scale Venture Partners’ cyber report released today.
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That investment is compounded by the interest of businesses in both protecting their data against increasingly sophisticated breaches and complying with data legislation like GDPR.
In another round for cyber startups, today Armorblox announced it has raised $16.5 million in fresh funding, and it is launching out of stealth mode. The Sunnyvale, California-based startup raised its Series A funding from General Catalyst, with participation from Point72 Ventures. Other previous investors include A Capital and a host of angel investors.
We’ve covered a number of cybersecurity startups over the past year working on everything from enterprise cloud security to email security. For its part, Armorblox is aiming to address one of the most vulnerable parts of the security ecosystem: humans.
When we spoke with Exabeam CEO Nir Polak about his company which leverages machine learning technology to detect rogue threats acting under the radar, he told Crunchbase News that humans are the weakest link in the security issue.
Armorblox CEO Dhananjay Sampath, who has previous experience working on security as a software engineer with Juniper Networks, is betting that the company’s use of natural language understanding (NLU) for textual communication analysis to mitigate security risks will significantly reduce that kind of vulnerability.
“Fundamentally enterprise security solutions do not understand textual data,” Sampath explained. “And more than 90 percent of data inside enterprises is textual in nature.”
Armorblox integrates with various applications that include textual data—it started with email, given the popularity of its use, and now integrates with OneDrive, Office365, Slack, and other communication platforms.
“We build pre-trained internet models in all of the data that’s available on the internet so that when we go into an organization we’re not starting from scratch,” Sampath explained. From there, he said, the NLU algorithms analyze employee communication with individuals from both within and outside of the organization to learn patterns and to deepen its understanding.
Of course, a huge issue with regard to cyber security is mitigation. “In terms of top issues keeping people up at night,” Scale Venture Partners’ report notes, “outdated security technology and processes (52 percent) and too many alerts (49 percent) continue to plague businesses.”
Sampath says that part of the company’s strategy to address that concern, which he says many customers consider a major pain point, is to “democratize alerts” by diffusing them across an organization through its application.
“If you were to send an email, and that email contained confidential information, you’d probably have the most amount of context to resolve that with triage,” he said. The consumer-facing part of the technology notifies a person when that information is about to be sent, asking whether or not they would like to continue. The users’ response, he explained, further trains the algorithms to address the correct threats. In the future, the company also plans to add more document encryption features, much like encryption company Egress Software, to its technology stack.
The company works with enterprises of all sizes and is also open to working with government entities—one of its investors is DJ Patil, who was Chief Data Scientist under former President Barack Obama. With the funding, the company will be hiring across departments and getting its product to market.