GreatHorn raises $2.25 million for its young cloud security platform

GreatHorn, a cloud security platform focused on stopping phishing attacks, has raised $2.25 million in seed funding led by ff Venture Capital and SoftTech VC, with participation from Techstars Ventures, RRE Ventures, Zelkova Ventures, V1.VC and investor Walter Winshall.

The Belmont, Ma.-based company came together last year, as a kind of bet that CEO Kevin O’Brien and his cofounder, Ray Wallace, made on two trends converging: the rapid adoption of cloud infrastructure for core business services like email, and a commensurate increase in the number of data breaches which began through those channels.

Both are coming true. A fast-growing percentage of enterprises have begun to embrace both Google Apps and (for much larger companies) Office 365 for email. Meanwhile, almost all data breaches start via highly targeted phishing attacks.

GreatHorn says it’s tackling the problem two ways. First, it’s built directly into the core email platforms themselves. For example, it can be natively integrated into Office 365 via the Azure marketplace and O365 APIs; that means no email delays when an attack is in process.

According to O’Brien, GreatHorn also prides itself on not trying to change user behavior as an enforcement strategy. “There’s a reason why humans are the weakest link in any security system,” he says. “They’re a ‘soft’ target, easy to trick, and often have commercial priorities that drive different behaviors from those of the security organization’s.” With that in mind, the company says it provides “active defense,” meaning it’s removing attacks where and when they happen, not simply reporting on them.

Bigger picture, O’Brien — whose previous gigs include product marketing director at the cloud security company CloudLock — says that GreatHorn — which charges on a per-mailbox, per-month basis — has ambitions beyond being an email security startup.

Given cloud computing forecasts, that’s not surprising.

“Cloud is changing how people and businesses communicate,” he says. “Email is simply a medium for exchanging ideas, and wherever a medium exists, exploits will soon follow.”