Google VC invests in former NSA analysts’ start-up
FT.com Hannah Kuchler 24/04/14
Google’s venture capital arm and Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins have invested in a start-up run by two former National Security Agency analysts, which promises to give large companies access to some of the world’s best cyber security researchers.
Jay Kaplan, chief executive, and his co-founder Mark Kuhr, left the #NSA last year – just before Edward Snowden revealed a mass US surveillance programme – to launch Synack.
Synack has vetted a pool of security researchers before letting them loose to try to find security vulnerabilities on the sites of major corporations, who are increasingly worried about the potential for cyber attacks.
The model follows the “bug bounty” schemes run by technology companies such as #Google and Facebook who offer cash to those who report flaws in their software, which they then fix. The company aims to make such knowhow accessible to less tech-savvy corporate customers.
#Google_Ventures, the internet company’s VC arm, has been eager to invest in cyber security start ups so far this year. Synack follows investments in Shape Security, Ionic Security and Threatstream, all part of a new generation of cyber security companies that promise new innovations to thwart hackers.
• Shape Security: Shape has developed constantly morphing computer code to evade cyber criminals by never looking the same twice. This “real time polymorphism” should break botnets which are responsible for billions of dollars of fraud. Google Ventures’ investment was part of $26m fundraising round including money from Kleiner Perkins, Venrock and executives from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
• Ionic Security: The start-up aims to help companies keep track of their data as it flows out of the doors to suppliers and contractors and ensure they maintain control over who accesses it. Google Ventures funded the company as part of a $25.5m round in conjunction with Jafco Ventures and Kleiner Perkins.
• ThreatStream: ThreatStream’s Optic platform aims to aggregate threat intelligence so organisations can connect the dots and take action more quickly. Sold as a software-as-a-service model, it claims to be the “first ever crowd-sourced cyber security intelligence solution”. Google Ventures funded its first fundraising round, of $4m, earlier this year in conjunction with Paladin Capital Group and executives and former executives of Cloudera.