Cybereason Brings Consumer-Tech, Defense Investors Aboard for $25M

In case you haven’t heard, cyber attacks have become a pretty big deal. Many different security approaches have emerged from big companies and startups alike—but in trying to protect customers, a lot of them still miss the point.

“The problem is usually you don’t see the magnitude of the attack, and you don’t have the manpower to understand the magnitude,” says Lior Div, co-founder and CEO of Boston-area startup Cybereason. “Basically, you don’t have a chance.”

Div (pictured) thinks more companies will have a chance, naturally, if they use his team’s software. Now his Israeli-born startup has a lot more money to get its product into customers’ hands.

Cybereason said today it has raised a $25 million Series B financing round led by Spark Capital. Previous venture investor CRV also participated, along with a new strategic investor, Lockheed Martin. The round brings Cybereason’s total raised to about $30 million.

The new investors are key to the story here. Spark is known for its big consumer-tech investments—in Twitter, Tumblr, Oculus VR, Wayfair, and others. The firm is not known for investing in security startups. And that’s just fine with Cybereason. “I need someone who can enable us to think a little bit differently,” Div says.

In particular, his company’s graphical user interface, which helps customers visualize the extent of cyber attacks and respond to them, is “different from what you see in the market,” he says, in that it has a consumer-tech feel that’s “more like the iPhone.” (Cybereason builds a graph showing relationships between different users, files, applications, and machines in an organization; then it looks for deviations from normal activity and tries to understand hackers’ intent.)


Cybereason's software displays the magnitude and timeline of a cyber attack.

Cybereason’s software displays the magnitude and timeline of a cyber attack.


Any startup can say it wants to be as user-friendly as Apple, of course. But with Spark’s Santo Politi joining the board, Cybereason may have found a VC who can bridge the enterprise and consumer-tech worlds. Politi, whose background is in engineering and finance, led Spark’s previous investments in Oculus, Admeld, Adap.TV, and other companies.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin makes for an interesting counterpoint. Lockheed (NYSE: LMT) has been expanding its business in cybersecurity, particularly in the commercial market; last year it acquired Industrial Defender, a company specializing in protecting critical infrastructure. The defense contractor is now a Cybereason customer, and says it will integrate the startup’s software into its own security products (in addition to investing in it). That seems like an unusual arrangement—and one that will give the startup a lot more distribution, while also bringing more defense-focused minds to bear on difficult and evolving problems in security.

“The solution will not come from the private sector,” says Div, who’s an Israeli intelligence veteran. “People who came from security companies simply don’t have the know-how and knowledge to solve this problem. The solution will come from more government and military know-how.” But at the same time, Div says, those players “don’t know how to sell to the private sector. There is a gap between technical or security knowledge and business knowledge.”

Cybereason hopes to fill that gap, of course, but it’s not … Next Page »

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