Security software developer Exabeam has raised $10 million in a Series A round of financing to protect businesses from the latest kinds of hack attacks.
These days, businesses are being targeted by a more savvy kind of attacker, according to Exabeam chief executive Nir Polak. Rather than simply try to penetrate a network using brute force, today’s secret data espionage warriors mimic real users — sometimes corporate partners, sometimes colleagues — to infiltrate a network using hijacked identities. Once inside, these hackers (under the guise of a real employee or partner) are free to wander around networks at will.
Exabeam’s software services track employees’ activities on a network using existing log data to create profiles of how a typical user interacts with different aspects of the network. When an employee does something that appears anomalous, the same security-tracking program can flag the behavior for a company’s crack team of white hat network defenders.
It’s fundamentally different from the way most people approach security, says Polak. “Typically, somebody builds a bigger fence and somebody will build a better way to go around it,” he says. Exabeam is trying to stop the attackers without the fence.
The software, engineered by the team behind the security company Imperva, was interesting enough to attract investment from Norwest Venture Partners, Aspect Ventures and angel investor Shlomo Kramer who has a track record of founding, funding and growing successful security companies, such as Check Point, Imperva, Palo Alto Networks and Trusteer.
For investors like Theresia Gouw, who previously worked as a partner at Accel before launching her own investment shop Aspect Ventures, the Exabeam deal reunited her with Polak and Kramer after their work together at Imperva, and it gave her the opportunity to work with Norwest’s Matt Howard. “Matt is someone whose security portfolio I have always admired, but was we both tend to like to do the early rounds we hadn’t been able to work together before now, since Aspect Ventures’ model is to partner in Series A rounds,” Gouw wrote in an email.
Howard, an investor in security companies like FireEye, MobileIron, 41st Parameter, and Shape Security also leapt at the chance to work with the Imperva team. “Exabeam brings a different approach to a very noisy industry full of alarms, loggers, SIEMs, and firewalls,” he wrote in an email. “It leverages existing logs and a machine-learning technology to home in on attacker behavior. The team has proven high tech and security experience, with veterans of Imperva and Sumo Logic, and I believe their approach has the potential to both simplify and improve security.”
As a result of their investments, both Howard and Gouw will join the Exabeam board of directors, which includes founders Polak and Gil, as well as Kramer.
“Organizations are losing the battle against cyberattacks, and the industry is in need of an effective approach to reverse the asymmetric advantage favoring hackers,” Polak said. “Our investors have an impressive history of building transformative companies, and their confidence in Exabeam’s big data security analytics will help us solve the most persistent and important challenge in the security industry – stopping data breaches in their tracks.”