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Cybercrime is on the rise as companies embrace digital, unsecured technologies during the pandemic. It’s predicted that cyberattack damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015. Ransomware alone is anticipated to cost companies more than 57 times more compared with 2015, which is why cyberdefense spending in the enterprise is expected to exceed a cumulative $1 trillion for 2017-2021.

The cybersecurity market is increasingly crowded, having outranked every corporate spending category including cloud, data analytics, productivity software, networking, AI, and automation since March 2020. But UncommonX, a startup company based in Chicago, claims to offer a differentiated managed detection and response (MDR) solution that combines curated threat feeds with automated analytics. In a vote of confidence from investors, UncommonX today announced that it raised $9.5 million through individual private investors in an extension to its series A funding round, bringing its total capital raised to $36 million.

Unique approach

UncommonX — which formerly went by 5thColumn — was founded in 2012 by Raymond Hicks, who previously started cybersecurity startup Looking Glass Systems and held executive roles at TerraEchos and Netrix. The company offers a range of MDR products for small and midsize businesses, aiming to provide contextual awareness to mitigate cyberthreats.

MDR is a category of managed cybersecurity service that provides intrusion detection of malware and malicious activity in a network, and assists in incident response. For faster response to security threats, MDR often leverages AI and machine learning to investigate and automatically contain threats while protecting data.

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“Without knowledge of how an organization’s security program can support the needs of the business, many companies and the IT departments will fail to prevent attacks, and will be left scrambling when the time comes to respond — when it may be too late,” Hicks told VentureBeat via email. “UncommonX has launched a dedicated innovations division — UncommonX Labs — led by me. The … division allows for the development of new technology and techniques in cybersecurity protection as well as executing an aggressive intellectual property protection program.”

UncommonX employs a security operations center (SOC), software, and a threat intelligence database to spot and remediate cyberattacks in real time. The SOC — which is responsible for ensuring that potential security incidents are correctly reported — monitors and analyzes activity on networks, servers, and other systems, looking for activity that could be indicative of a security incident.

UncommonX’s software integrates with existing systems and devices, attempting to prioritize device maintenance windows and end-of-life planning with priority levels and severity ratings. The software correlates event data for anomalies and possible compromise, escalating issues to customers based on their standard service-level agreement.

“We combine open source, subscription, and proprietary feeds, giving us a rich … perspective of known threats. Intelligence developed from our proprietary feeds comes from global points of presence and provides unique threats not found elsewhere,” UncommonX explains on its website. “All feeds are curated and deduplicated to ensure the cleanest and most actionable intelligence.”

Competition

UncommonX competes with a number of startups in the MDR segment, which is predicted to be worth $7.26 billion by 2028, according to Reports and Data. Proficio, which specializes in MDR services, has raised tens of millions in capital from institutional investors. Another rival — MDR provider Expel — secured over $140 million in investments in November.

But Hicks asserts that the market opportunity is vast enough that UncommonX, with its approach, can find continued success in the future. Some analysts agree. McAfee notes that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations have decentralized their operations, creating new vulnerabilities of malicious actors to exploit. Cybersecurity remains a priority as a result, with the average company expected to spend somewhere between 6% and 14% of their annual IT budget on cybersecurity this year.

“In addition to financing the new UncommonX Labs division, the investment will help UncommonX continue to scale its incident response capabilities, 24/7 security operations center, as well as marketing and sales operations,” Hicks said. “A plan based on the current and realistic view of an organization’s security program can provide the necessary visibility to gaps that need to be addressed. These gaps can be prioritized for investment and both C-suite-level managers and the IT dept can then be an active participants in the decision to accept risk, build in-house capabilities, or how to best leverage the value from outsourcing to a security partner.”

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