It’s estimated that the average organization has 1.2 million documents, making it difficult to identify and secure sensitive data. This dilemma motivated Karthik Krishnan, formerly vice president of Hewlett Packard Enterprise subsidiary Aruba, to cofound Concentric with Shankar Subramaniam and Madhu Shashanka, which emerged from stealth today with $7.5 million in funding from Clear Ventures, Engineering Capital, Homebrew, and Core Ventures. Its marquee product taps AI and machine learning to uncover unstructured on-premises and cloud data, and Krishnan claims customers have already used it to find “millions” of inappropriately shared and unprotected documents accessible by thousands of employees.

“Businesses understand the importance of protecting their critical assets, and yet, despite their best efforts, an extreme amount of data is left unsecured, unidentified, misclassified, and at risk,” he added. “Unstructured data is currently copious and dispersed, and it includes an alarming amount of business-critical information. It’s a target for cybercriminals and can be a pitfall for regulatory compliance, but securing it is incredibly difficult. It’s the data challenge of our digital generation that we’re laser-focused on solving.”

Concentric’s software-as-a-service (Saas) suite develops a semantic understanding of all of a customer’s data, which it uses to shield sensitive information like contracts, financial documents, payroll, merger and acquisition plans, product road maps, and source code while meeting security, compliance, and privacy mandates. Through machine learning, it delivers a “risk-oriented” view into documents and critical files, as well as remediation features that proactively address risk.

Concentric can categorize and classify data for IT and security teams in visualizations that allow them to drill down into at-risk documents. It integrates with popular third-party security and data stores, and it doesn’t rely on predefined rules or manual annotation to produce results.

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That’s useful considering the importance in some industries of maintaining separation between business areas, like the investment banking division and the trading desk at a financial institution. Were sensitive information to fall into the wrong hands, it could fuel illegal activity like insider trading or trigger steep fines from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Concentric is an essential part of Cadence’s data security portfolio. We use it to identify all the business-critical data — product documentation, finance reports, [and] contracts,” said Sreeni Kancharla, chief information security officer of Cadence Design Systems, a Concentric customer. “Legacy solutions don’t work autonomously, and we’re forced to review flagged documents and fix security violations manually. Concentric gives us a critical layer of data security intelligence on top of the data protection solutions we already use.”

Concentric competes to a degree with Egress, which has raised over $40 million to date for its AI platform that reduces data loss and exposure risk, and Privitar, a software startup that helps enterprises and others engineer privacy protection into their data projects. But with a founding team hailing from Juniper Networks, PGP Corporation, Symantec, Niara, Andiamo Systems, and other noteworthy networking and security companies, backers like Clear Ventures founding and managing partner Chris Rust believe Concentric is well-equipped to excel in an enterprise governance, risk, and compliance market that’s anticipated to be worth $51.5 billion by 2024.

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