Big corporations have been riddled by security attacks over the past year, and hackers seem to be growing even bolder and more resolute. As a result, market research firm The Radicati Group said that it expects the corporate web security market to grow to $2.5 billion over the next four years. It’s in this climate that a young, stealth startup is trying to put companies back on the offensive, and some notable Silicon Valley investors are buying in.
Mountain View-based Shape Security is announcing this morning that it has raised $6 million in Series A financing, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures. Accel Partner Peter Wagner, Sequoia Limited Partner Guarav Garg, Vodafone CTO Chris Burke, Baseline Ventures, and unnamed executives at LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook also participated in the round.
As a result of the new financing, Kleiner Perkins Managing Partner Ted Schlein and Sequoia’s Guarav Garg will be joining the startup’s board of directors.
Shape Security is still operating in stealth mode, so it’s keeping its cards close to its chest and not sharing many details, but this much is clear: Its goals are ambitious. Shape CEO Derek Smith said that his startup is looking to change the web security paradigm by shifting costs from defenders to hackers. Generally speaking, companies are forced to rely on identifying and classifying malware and botnets attack signatures that have occurred in the past, with the hopes of easily finding and shutting them down in the future.
But sustaining this kind of security requires a lot of human and financial capital, so Shape has developed military-grade technology that doesn’t rely on past attack signatures, and instead forces hackers to “spend more and more to achieve less and less.”
There’s no doubt that businesses and consumers are fairly consistently under attack from increasingly intelligent botnets, malware, and trojans, and traditional security architectures just aren’t cutting it anymore. And it’s not getting any easier any time soon. There’s been a lot of swooning over Apple’s outsized success of late, but information security veteran Eugene Kapersky said today that Apple is ten years behind Microsoft in security.
Because Apple’s share of the desktop market has remained minimal relative to that of Microsoft, hackers have focused their efforts where they can find more bang for their buck. But Apple’s growth has begun to change that, as demonstrated by a number of recent malware attacks. Kapersky told CBR that his company has begun to see an increasing number of malware attacks aimed at Macs, saying “it’s always been possible to develop Mac malware, but [the recent Flashback/Flashfake malware outbreak] was a bit different. For example it was asking questions about being installed on the system and, using vulnerabilities, it was able to get to the user mode without any alarms.”
The point is that, for consumers or businesses, the landscape is beginning to change, and if Apple continues growing at its current rate, soon it’s not going to matter whether your company uses Macs or PCs, they will both be appealing to hackers. Especially when it comes to malware.
Thus, Shape is developing a technology that aims to change how businesses from eCommerce to social networking protect their customers (and themselves), regardless of browser, software, or hardware. Kleiner Perkins Managing Partner and Shape Security board member Ted Schlein says that he thinks the startup has the promise to be one of the more disruptive forces in the security industry “since the early days of anti-virus technology.”
Of course, investors would say that, and it’s really not clear as of yet how much value Shape is really bringing to the table. But part of the reason that this string of notable investors is so jazzed about its potential is due to the experience (and past success) of its leadership.
Shape’s co-founders include CEO Derek W. Smith, CTO Justin Call, and VP Product Management, Sumit Agarwal. Agarwal is the former Senior Advisor For Cyber Innovation at the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as former Deputy Assistant Secretary for the department, and was the head of mobile product at Google. We’ve also learned from the startup’s SEC filing that Troy Tribe is on board, who is a co-founder and former VP of Business Development at Solera Networks, the makers of network forensics solutions.
As Shape’s founders hail from Google, the Department of Defense and major defense contractors, it will certainly be interesting to see what the potential is for Shape’s patent-pending technology. Judging by the fact that Smith said the team is working toward an invite-only beta launch this summer, it shouldn’t be too long before we learn more. They’re also targeting first product launch for later this year, likely by the fall.
Stay tuned for more. Find Shape Security at home here.