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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.

One medical practice says it helps ensure compliance with healthcare regulations about protecting patient data. The San Francisco-based office of Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery, whose nurses and assistants have been using it to encrypt sensitive files that need to be shared, has found it works easily and helps maintain needed security on medical data. "We need to make sure it wasn't sitting in the clear in the cloud," said Dr. Jonathan Kaplan. Sookasa has received about $6.6 million in funding, primarily from Accel Partners, with seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz and others.

ThetaRay and CyberX Labs, based in Israel, have similar goals: finding ways to protect industrial networks.

CyberX, founded by Omer Schneider, is in stealth mode, developing threat-detection technology for industrial networks used by the likes of energy and gas and oil companies. The company, which received initial seed money of $20,000 from CyWest Labs, also recently received $2 million in funding from Glen Rock Israel, Glilot Capital partners and Swarth Group.

ThetaRay, co-founded last year by CEO Mark Gazit with Tel Aviv University professor Amir Averbuch and Ronald Coifman of Yale, has begun to find its server-based technology that's used in monitoring of power-production facilities become deployed as Thetaray plans for general availability in the September timeframe. Gazit says the ThetaRay security appliance, deployed on premises, works by looking at both operational data from industrial systems such as SCADA controls while simultaneously combining and comparing it against the monitored network traffic and security gear. The result is a "hyper-dimensional picture of normal behavior, in order to detect variances that might indicate an attack, says Gazit. The goal is to prevent the targeted, stealthy attacks. ThetaRay has received undisclosed amounts of funding from Paolim Capital Market, Jerusalem Venture Partners and a General Electric investment arm.

Vectra Networks, based in San Jose, was co-founded by Mark Abene, chief scientist and James Harlacher, senior engineer, in 2011, with the mission of providing detection of cyberattacks in an enterprise network. Its X-series platform, in the form of an appliance or virtual-machine, became available last February. "This is augmenting the security in place, such as firewall, IPS and sandboxes," says Mike Banic, vice president of marketing. "Things do get through." The Vectra appliance, residing inside the network, listens to traffic and looks for patterns that would indicate targeted attacks. Customers today include Riverbed Networks and Aruba Networks, Banic, says. One competitor might be viewed as Damballa. Vectra has received $17.8 million from IA Ventures, Khosla Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures.


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