COVID-19 Startups Venture

Awake Security To Expand Operations After Securing $36M Series C

Cybersecurity threats today are increasingly more common and more sophisticated, but Awake Security is working to find and remediate threats that would otherwise go undetected by traditional solutions.

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The Santa Clara, California-based startup closed on a $36 million Series C round of funding Wednesday led by new investor Evolution Equity Partners.

Awake Security says its advanced network traffic analysis combines artificial intelligence with human expertise to seek out and learn insider and external attacker behaviors, while also providing autonomous triage and response.

“We look at everything going on the wire, cloud, etc., and build a platform to extract metadata,” CEO Rahul Kashyap told Crunchbase News. “Then we use advanced analytics to determine if it is a threat. We help our customers by looking at that data, [and] automating and identifying attacks, which normally take a lot of manpower to do.”

Founded in 2014, the company has secured nearly $80 million in total funding, including the Series C round, according to Kashyap.

Joining Evolution Equity Partners in the latest funding round are new investors Energize Ventures and Liberty Global Ventures, along with existing investors Bain Capital Ventures and Greylock Partners.

“We’re partnering with Awake because we believe its platform can have a big impact in the industrial sector,” Juan Muldoon, partner at Energize Ventures, said in a written statement. “The challenges with protecting critical infrastructure are changing rapidly, and as the attack surface for digital threats expands, so have the blind spots for many organizations.”

Prior to the Series C, Awake received $12 million in 2018 as part of an undisclosed Series B round led internally, Kashyap said.

In conjunction with the investment, Karthik Subramanian, partner at Evolution Equity, has joined Asheem Chandna, Enrique Salem and Kevin Mandia on Awake’s board of directors.

Cyber attacks will grow

Kashyap said he expects cybersecurity issues to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, while investors continue to bet on the industry.

Part of the issue is that companies are constrained as people are not going into the office, so it is tough to navigate issues, he added.

“COVID-19 is a prominent use case,” he said. “If we can identify attacks and compromises in this environment, hopefully we can do something about that. What has happened is the industry, as a whole, is moving toward smarter detection and response in a more timely manner.”

Meanwhile, spending on cybersecurity is predicted to increase in the next few years. In early April, Forbes pulled together expectations, such as that enterprises are likely to spend $12.6 billion on cloud security tools by 2023, up from $5.6 billion in 2018.

‘Cybersecurity weathers recessions’

Awake Security is seeing that spending firsthand. The company has increased its annual recurring revenue by close to 700 percent and doubled its employee headcount over the past year, Kashyap said. It currently has about 65 employees.

He expects robust growth in customers as well.

“Cybersecurity weathers recessions, and we are seeing increases in cyber attacks in the industry right now,” Kashyap said. “Some customers are doubling down on security, while others are pushing the pause button to evaluate their needs.”

Awake plans to use the Series C funding to expand into Europe where there is a lot of demand, due in part to a shortage of skill and automation, he said. The company will also invest in itself, including new hires and capabilities.

Earlier in April, Awake Security told Crunchbase News it is offering 60 days of free access to its network traffic analysis platform to hospitals and health care organizations to help identify ransomware and other cyber threats that could slow the COVID-19 response.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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