Identity management is at the heart of how a lot of organizations aim to keep their systems secure, but that leaves a big question unanswered: How secure is the identity management system overall, and what about all the gaps that are not covered? Today a startup called Silverfort, which has built what it believes is a platform that can cover those bases and more, is announcing $65 million in funding to expand.
The company’s platform is built both to work with existing identity management software providers, as well as provide a layer of security across systems and hardware that might not already be covered by them. The latter group is more tricky and a bigger target than some might realize, said Silverfort’s co-founder and CEO Hed Kovetz in an interview, citing both legacy systems and machine-to-machine networks being two of the most exposed when it comes to hacking these days.
“The market is realizing that identity is the next big thing in security, but it is so fragmented,” Kovetz said in an interview.
Israel-based Silverfort’s funding, a Series C, brings the total raised to over $100 million, and it is being made at an undisclosed valuation. The last estimate PitchBook gives for it is $150 million, but that was back in August 2020 and the company has grown since then — 2.5x year on year, with 3.5x growth for the U.S. “Hundreds of people are coming to us,” Kovetz said. Customers today include Singtel, Samsonite and UPS “among the smaller” of them, he said. Bigger customers are not being disclosed and overall about half are based in the U.S. in a total list of over 200 customers.
Led by Greenfield Partners, the round also includes new backers GM Ventures, Acrew Capital and Vintage Investment Partners; and previous investors StageOne Ventures, Singtel Innov8, Citi Ventures, Aspect Ventures and Maor Investments. This is a mix of both financial and strategic investors, although Kovetz would not disclose many details of which were using its services and how.
An interesting one to draw out from that list, however, is GM Ventures, which presumably could both be working with the startup to secure its own systems, which span on-premise and cloud systems, but also legacy software mixed with next-generation applications; as well as services that it might develop for its own customers who will increasingly load more identity-based services into connect-car environments. In short there is a lot of potential there, and GM seems to be similarly non-committal in describing how it might use the tech:
“The need for robust threat protection across the enterprise is more prevalent today than ever before, as traditional network parameters rapidly change and new threats emerge,” said Wade Sheffer, MD of GM Ventures, in a statement. “Our investment in Silverfort underscores GM Ventures’ commitment to identifying next generation technologies that will enhance a business’ digital enterprise while supporting GM’s transformation to a technology leader and platform innovator. We are optimistic about Silverfort’s growth and believe their technology has the potential to stop future identity-based threats at GM and beyond.”
While you might argue that identity management systems in themselves are systems put in place to help with security, and in any case many of them might be sold alongside or to work with other kinds of services to build a larger security stack, Kovetz’s and Silverfort’s argument is that there is a lot of merit to de-coupling identity from security around that identity layer.
Part of the reason for that, Kovetz said, is because each identity product, just as many applications themselves, sit in silos — and that is before one considers the different parts of an enterprise network that might not be covered by identity-based authentication. Taken together, it creates a ripe opportunity for a malicious hacker looking out for small gaps and points of entry. (In that regard, it’s not unlike someone in a crowded place looking for someone to pickpocket — that person doesn’t regard those who are protected, but looks for those who are less on their guard and likely will not be.)
Silverfort’s approach is unique (and patented, Kovetz pointed out), if a little quirky sounding. As he described it to me, customers aren’t necessarily asked to give up any of their current ID management products. Silverfort is used alongside all of them, however many there may be. At the same time it takes a snapshot of a company’s whole landscape of machines and provides observation around all of those ID services and around machines that are not covered by any of them to bring an all-in-one approach to covering it, providing both Threat Detection and Response (ITDR) and Identity Threat Prevention (ITP) capabilities.
As Kovetz describes it, instead of building another ID platform, Silverfort “sits behind all the other platforms.” The other platforms forward their authentications to Silverfort, which becomes “like a second opinion” in authenticating a user. The legacy points are more complex to integrate and is in part where some of the patented tech comes into play, he added.
“The company has spent years building a best-in-class platform to solve holistically a growing security problem now gaining mainstream awareness,” said Avery Schwartz, a partner at Greenfield Partners, in a statement. “We are energized both by the positive impact the company’s technology is having and by the leadership’s vision and passion. It is clear to us that Silverfort’s strong momentum in the market is just the start, and we are excited to join them on this journey.”