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SlashNext, which helps businesses counter cyberattacks, today announced new funding of $9 million. The round was led by Norwest Venture Partners and Wing Venture Capital.

The Pleasanton, California-based startup provides a cloud-based program that uses machine learning to stop malware and socially engineered attacks that spread through social media, email, and messaging apps. “Some of the most significant breaches in modern times have started through hard to detect social engineering attacks,” said SlashNext’s founder and CEO Atif Mushtaq in a statement. “Just think about the latest DNC hack where Russian threat actors compromised John Podesta’s email account by simply providing a phishing link to a fake Gmail login page.“

SlashNext provides a cloud-based device that connects to an appliance and passively monitors internet traffic flowing in and out of the organization. The service, along with the hardware, is billed on an annual or three-year subscription.

Mushtaq says that SlashNext’s network-based approach can protect a range of network devices, including laptops, iOS devices, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart TVs, printers, medical devices, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

SlashNext’s customers include Nevro, a medical device maker; Centrify, a secure identity provider; and Aryaka, a software-defined WAN provider. The startup also claims investment banks, semiconductor companies, military contractors, mortgage processors, and specialty chemical companies as customers.

Mushtaq considers Cyphort and Cisco’s Sourcefire as direct competitors but argues that SlashNext takes a different approach to detection, namely its progressive learning.

“The last two years have seen a rapid rise in social engineering attacks that do not rely on malware or exploits to penetrate an organization,” he wrote in an email to VentureBeat. “This shift in attack vector often relies on the victim’s trust of a known brand.  For example, a user may easily be convinced to click on an update to Adobe’s Flash player because of his inherent trust of Adobe’s brand.  What makes these attacks particularly difficult to detect and block is that they are not bound by a fixed set of behaviors and thus cannot be identified by a simple signature or static set of if-then-else sandbox rules.”

SlashNext has raised a total of $10 million to date and will use today’s cash injection to grow sales and develop subsequent products. Founded in 2014, the startup currently has 33 employees.


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