Distil Networks Raises $21M To Block Malicious Bots

Distil Networks, a company that analyzes website traffic and blocks malicious bots, announced a $21 million Series B round today.

Bessemer Venture Partners led the round and David Cowan from BVP will join the Distil Networks board of directors. Investors Foundry, TechStars, ff Venture Capital, Idea Fund and Correlation Ventures also participated.

Today’s investment brings the total raised to $38 million, according to Crunchbase.

Checking The Bots At The Door

The company analyzes information as it comes into the website to determine if it’s a person or a bot by looking at a range of information.

It looks at how the visitor got to the site, the navigation path and how it moved, the intervals at which it moved from page to page and if it moved a mouse or typed on a keyboard, Rami Essaid, CEO and co-founder of Distil Networks explained.

By looking at these kinds of signals the company can determine if it’s a person or not. If it’s not sure, it offers a test like a Captcha box, a chat window or an email to test the findings. We’ve all seen these types of challenges on websites. When you’re buying tickets to a concert or sporting event, there is typically a Captcha challenge to get to the purchase area. In fact, one of the company’s customers is a big online ticket seller.

If it determines a malicious bot is trying to log on with a valid user name and password, it resets the log-on credentials and sends the actual user an email with instructions to change his or her information.

Customers could also throttle the bot to slow it down, block it or even feed it false info.

Investor David Cowan from BVP sees this is as an important part of the security battle. “Eliminating bots from network traffic provides a foundation of cyber security that eliminates entire classes of attack,” he said.

Founding A New Company

When Essaid founded the company in 2011, he formed it with two friends he had known since the seventh grade, all of whom were coincidentally working in the security industry.

“I was working at my last job and customers were asking for [bot detection]. They were actively looking for a solution. I heard more and more clients complain about it [and nobody was offering it]. I got my friends together and said let’s do this,” Essaid said.

He quit his job and began fundraising, sleeping on friends couches. His partners stayed employed until Essaid was able to raise some seed funds and pay them a salary.

The bot detection tool is just the first one from the company and Essaid said they have plans to add to the platform over time, with a new product due out later this year.

The company has several dozen large enterprise clients and thousands of SMBs, Essaid said.

It currently has 60 employees with offices in Arlington, VA right outside of Washington, DC and San Francisco. The company plans to hire another 100 employees over the next year as it aggressively expands.