Bromium Raises $26.5M For Security Through Micro-Virtualization

Bromium — an enterprise security and virtualization startup backed initially by Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Partners — is taking the stage today at GigaOm’s Structure conference to unveil its technology. It’s also announcing that it has raised $26.5 million in Series B funding.

Here’s the problem that Bromium is tackling, as outlined for me by co-founder and CTO Simon Crosby (who was previously CTO at Citrix): As the “consumerization of the enterprise” advances, it’s creating more security risks. Workers, not IT managers, have more control over the devices they use, the software they install, and the websites that they can visit. That’s a good thing, but it things much harder for anyone trying to protect a company from viruses or other attacks.

Obviously, there’s no shortage of security products, but Crosby says none of them address a core problem — security patches, for example, can’t keep up with the threats, while using traditional virtualization just means that a virus could wreak havoc on your virtualized desktop.

Bromium’s solution takes the form of micro-virtualization. Crosby says that anytime you open something that could pose a security risk, Bromium can create a microvisor — a virtualized version of the desktop that completely hardware-isolates the risky application or website, as well as any documents or files that are deemed necessary for it to access. Meanwhile, the core system is always completely walled off.

“Any untrustworthy computation is automatically just put into these tiny shells on-the-fly, and the user is completely unaware of it,” Crosby says.

From a security perspective, that means the threat from a virus is significantly diminished, because it’s going to be completely isolated in its effects. Users, meanwhile, can visit the websites and download the software that they want, and they won’t notice any change to their experience. (A bonus: Bromium makes sure that you’re never sending data to a website other than the one claimed in a browser — which means, for example, you don’t have to worry about accidentally handing over your bank credentials to a hoax site.)

As for the Series B, it was led by Highland Capital Partners, with participation from new investor Intel Capital and existing investors Andreessen and Ignition. Bromium has now raised about $37 million in funding.

Today’s announcement is just about the Bromium architecture and funding. Later this year, Crosby says we can expect product announcements that bring the architecture to PCs and mobile devices.