Security

Darktrace bolsters machine learning-based security tools to automatically attack threats

A UK cybersecurity startup called Darktrace recently raised $65 million in growth equity financing to continue its global growth and further deployments.

Image: Darktrace

Darktrace, a cybersecurity startup that uses machine learning to detect threats, announced Wednesday that it had raised $65 million to continue with its plans for global expansion. The company's software helps IT leaders see emerging threats on computer networks in real time.

The company was founded in 2013, and has grown rapidly. At last count, Darktrace boasted 300 employees and more than 1,000 deployments of its Enterprise Immune System technology. What's more interesting, perhaps, is how it works.

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According to a press release announcing the funding round, Darktrace described what it does as: "Using advanced mathematics and machine learning techniques based on the biological principles of the human immune system."

There are four key products that make up the Darktrace portfolio. Darktrace, itself, is the company's basic cyber threat defense solution, and the focus of its latest round. The core technology of the Darktrace product was developed by specialists from the University of Cambridge, and is based on machine learning and a new branch of Bayesian probability theory. According to the company's website, it "is capable of detecting anomalous behaviors within large and complex environments, without any prior knowledge of what it is looking for."

Darktrace also offers its Darktrace Threat Visualizer, which provides analysts and CXOs with a high-level, global view of their enterprise. Darktrace Antigena complements the core Darktrace product by automatically defends against potential threats that have been detected, acting as digital "antibodies." Finally, the Industrial Immune System is a version of Darktrace designed for Industrial Control Systems (ICS).

The key value provided by Darktrace is the fact that it relies on unsupervised machine learning, and it is able to detect threats on its own without much human interaction. There are no rules or signatures needed to get the software up and running, which could make it a good option for firms that do not have the budget to hire a large team of machine learning experts, but want to utilize the technology.

Darktrace's latest funding round was led by investment firm KKR, with Summit Partners, TenEleven Ventures, and SB ISAT Fund also participating. The company was initially funded by Invoke Capital in 2013.

In addition to the investments from VCs and investment firms, Darktrace is also backed by Mike Lynch. If that name sounds familiar, it's because Lynch was the founder of Autonomy, the company that sold to HP for $11 billion and subsequently turned into an enormous legal nightmare. However, with the growth experienced by Darktrace, it seems that Lynch is finding some redemption in the tech world.

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Recently, the company won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2016 for its technology.

While Darktrace's approach is definitely unique, it isn't the first company to use AI technology like machine learning for security. In fact, many startups are launching that are seeking to use machine learning, predictive analytics, and cognitive computing to try to help organizations stay ahead of major threats. Even IBM Watson is trying its hand at cybersecurity.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Darktrace recently raised $65 to continue global expansion of the Enterprise Immune System technology that powers its core products.
  2. Darktrace is modeled after human biology, and can begin detecting threats with no rules or signatures needed, which could make it a much easier to use solution than other machine learning tools.
  3. AI and machine learning continue to grow in the security world, with new startups and old guard firms trying their hand at creating security solutions that use the technology.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is News Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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