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10 security start-ups to watch

Ellen Messmer | July 1, 2014
Security start-ups arise because they have fresh approaches to fighting malware and cyber-espionage or combatting the insider threat through network monitoring. In this round-up of some of the newer security firms, Distil Networks, Observable Networks and Vectra Networks fit into that category. But two others just out of the gate, Exabeam and Fortscale, are part of another trend--squeezing more out of existing log management and security information and event management products.

Idan Tendler, CEO and founder Fortscale

"The major black hole is the endpoint, and there's not enough visibility about the users," says CEO Idan Tendler, who co-founded Fortscale with Yona Hollander in 2012. The Fortscale Hadoop-based approach is software that works with existing log management and SIEM products. Now being tested with products such as HP ArcSight, RSA enVision, Splunk and IBM's QRadar SIEM, the Fortscale product is expected to be available around September.

HackerOne was co-founded by CTO Alex Rice, formerly a security expert at Facebook, and Merijn Terhaggen, formerly with the Online24 consultancy providing penetration testing and other services in the U.S and The Netherlands. The company has a somewhat unusual mission: offer bounties for serious software bugs found in widely used software that impacts the Internet as a whole. HackerOne, which also brought former Microsoft senior security strategist lead Katie Moussouris on as chief policy officer, works to bring together the bounty hunter who's found something with the companies that use HackerOne as a kind of broker for their bug-bounty programs. HackerOne this May said it's gotten $9 million in venture funding from Benchmark.

Observable Networks started hitting its stride last year with a cloud-based security service that relies on network sensors in the customer's network to discern device and user behavior even when encrypted traffic presents an obstacle. With Bryan Doerr as its CEO, the start-up was founded in 2011 in Clayton, Mo., by Patrick Crowley, chief technology officer and chair, who is a computer science professor at Washington University. Crowley's technical method is called "continuous device profiling," according to Vince DiMemmo, chief sales and marketing officer. "It's a behavior-modelling technology," and its purpose is to monitor and alert for activity that indicates attacks, compromises or insider threats.

The Observable Networks software-based sensors are deployed in cloud platforms such as Amazon, and the company is in talks with mobile carriers on how its CDP technology might be applied in carrier networks. The start-up has received about $4 million in funding.

ProtectWise, still in stealth mode, isn't talking yet about the details of what the Denver-based start-up is working on in terms of cloud-based security but claims it will be "disruptive." ProtectWise's CEO Scott Chasin was formerly CTO, McAfee Content and Cloud Security, while Gene Stevens, ProtectWise CTO, was in engineering roles at both McAfee and Mx Logic — the firm that Chasin founded and sold to McAfee for $140 million in 2009. Recent financial disclosures show that ProtectWise is receiving $14.1 million from Arsenal Ventures Partners, Trinity Ventures, Crosslink Capital and Paladin Capital Group. That follows the $3.1 million round from last year

Sookasa, based in San Mateo, Calif., was co-founded in 2012 by CEO Asaf Cidon and his father, CTO Israel Cidon, former Cisco engineer Madan Gopal and Lior Gavish. Making its debut last April, Sookasa offers a file-encryption and security service that works with Dropbox, among other cloud services. Through the lightweight Sookasa agent software for Google Android, Apple iOS, Microsoft Windows or the Apple Mac, the user's file is intercepted and encrypted before it's sent and only authorized user can decrypt it. The typical cost would be $10 per month or $100 per year per person.


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