Dope Security emerges from stealth to shake up the SWG market

San Francisco-based cybersecurity startup Dope Security has launched from stealth with $4 million in funding to modernize the secure web gateway market.

A secure web gateway, or SWG, is a network security device that acts as a barrier between users and malicious web traffic, websites with vulnerabilities, malware and other internet-based cyber threats. While by no means sexy, SWGs have become critical during the recent shift to remote and hybrid work as employees shift from a tightly-controlled office environment to less secure home networks.

Though SWGs are an important tool for organizations whose workers no longer sit within an internal corporate network, Kunal Agarwal, founder and CEO of Dope Security, says that most legacy SWGs are no longer fit for purpose in a remote, cloud-first world.

“There’s been an emergence of secure web access and today every major organization protects or secures what you can access from your laptop,” Agarwal tells TechCrunch. “The way in which they do this is a problem. It’s the equivalent of taking a flight from London to Dublin and stopping over in Germany.”

These stopovers, along with difficult-to-deploy solutions, lead to outages, off-device decryption, significantly slower page loads and reduced end-user productivity, he added.

Agarwal, a cybersecurity veteran who started hacking as a child, became frustrated with legacy SWG solutions during his time at Forcepoint and Symantec, where he spent years trying to retrofit existing SWG solutions to solve problems that he says were never designed to solve. “I started to see all of these customers complain about outages, reliability and performance problems,” Agarwal said.

It was this that led to the creation of Dope Security, a startup named after the Bay Area slang. Dope Security is a fly-direct SWG that eliminates the data center stopover architecture required by legacy providers, instead performing security directly on the endpoint. This architecture improves performance up to fourfold, according to Agarwal, and ensures privacy and reliability when securing enterprises against web-based threats.

Agarwal said his company’s technology can be deployed in under five minutes and offers network defenders insights through a cloud-based console and integrates with Microsoft 365 and Google accounts — and is already in the hands of customers.

The company’s $4 million investment was led by Boldstart Ventures. Agarwal said the company has 30 employees, mostly former Forcepoint and Symantec employees — and is already looking for the market it’s going to try to disrupt next.

“We want to build together not one product but a whole product portfolio,” Agarwal said. “And we want customers to look at these products and say ‘yeah, that’s dope.'”