by Tanaya Macheel
Blue Hexagon, a company focused on protecting companies from cyberthreats, has raised $31 million from Benchmark Capital and Altimeter Capital, which called the startup's deep learning technology a "game changer" in cybersecurity.
Benchmark, which is best known for its early stage investments in consumer tech brands like Uber, Dropbox, Snapchat and Instagram, has also had enterprise company successes, although Blue Hexagon is only its fourth cybersecurity company after Proof Point, HackerOne, and Duo Security (which was acquired by Cisco).
"Most cybersecurity products are only incrementally better than what's out there on the market,” said Eric Vishria, a general partner at Benchmark. Blue Hexagon, however, represents a major step forward in network threat detection, he said.
"Their ability to use neural networks to deliver verdicts on traffic in real-time without introducing latency is a game changer," Vishria added. "They've already proven it in early trials and customer deployments.”
Blue Hexagon’s customers are primarily companies in the financial services and healthcare industries — both of which are subjected to more attacks than any other industry and therefore have to allocate a cybersecurity budget. Financial firms fall victim to cybersecurity attacks 300 times more frequently than businesses in other industries, according to Javelin Research. Banks in particular seem to be spending more and more on cybersecurity tools with no ceiling because as their operations become more sophisticated so do the hackers that target them.
Blue Hexagon says it also supports universities and aims to provide its services to the government in the future too.
The startup, which launched Tuesday, plans to use the funding for marketing, general growth, and hiring. It currently has 30 employees and plans to double that number this year.
For some banks, cybersecurity spending is already up to $1 billion. In a survey of 100 banks' senior security officers conducted by Thales eSecurity, about 84 percent of 100 banks’ senior security officers said their companies plan to spend more this year on cybersecurity, compared to 78 percent in the previous year. In the same survey, 36 percent said they experienced an intrusion in 2018, compared to 24 percent the year before.
"Cybersecurity is a street brawl with no rules,” said Nayeem Islam, CEO of Blue Hexagon. "Attackers are using every weapon at their disposal to attack organizations. Blue Hexagon is giving back the advantage back to defenders with a network threat protection platform harnessing deep learning. Using an advanced neural network architecture, our platform stops known and unknown threats in subseconds at 10G wire speeds."
Blue Hexagon said it has a 99.5 percent detection rate against daily malware samples and “very low” false positives in efficacy tests.
Deep learning is a specific type of machine learning based on learning data representations rather than reading task-specific algorithms. Blue Hexagon’s software claims to stop threats, both known and unknown, in “subseconds,” removing the need for investigation costs. For top targets like banks and hospitals, it protects their networks from malware and viruses like the WannaCry global attack and other ransomware. Trojan botnets and Denial of Service are the most common attacks in banking and ATMs are a big target. U.S. banks lost $16.8 billion to cybercriminals in 2017, according to Javelin.
Blue Hexagon cofounders, Islam and chief technology officer Saumitra Das, were former R&D head and engineering lead, respectively, at Qualcomm. Das is an inventor with 330 patents granted worldwide and 125 in the U.S. The team also includes former staff from FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Symantec and Amazon ($AMZN).
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