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MixMode has closed a $4 million round of venture capital as it continues work on artificial intelligence to help companies combat cyberattacks, many of which are increasingly automated.

Entrada Ventures led the round of funding, which included participation from Keshif Ventures and Blu Venture Investors. After spending the past two years fine-tuning the system, MixMode will use the money for hiring, as well as increased marketing efforts.

The Santa Barbara-based startup is trying to leapfrog ahead of current security AI strategies by developing technology that doesn’t require any human intervention or rule-making. As bad actors turn to AI to launch new forms of attacks, the company believes such “unsupervised” AI is essential to maintaining defenses.

“Large enterprises have a very clear need and understanding that adversaries and bad actors are using more and more advanced AI,” said MixMode CEO John Keister. “They can’t just depend on the same old machine learning tools that have been around for 10 years that tell them about threats.”


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Read more: VentureBeat’s Special Issue on AI and security

The impact of artificial intelligence on security has become a hotly debated topic in recent years. In the short term, many are optimistic that automation can help companies scale their defenses to fight back against growing waves of attacks. But over time, the concern is that this same AI could cede the advantage back to bad actors intent on causing havoc.

To remain ahead of that cycle, MixMode has developed an AI-driven security platform that adapts on its own rather than relying on rules that need to be constantly revised. By learning on its own without requiring the addition of external data, MixMode’s system can automatically update its baseline of behavior.

“It’s not a nice-to-have because the adversaries have advanced AI already,” Keister said. “You can’t show up at a gunfight with a knife. You’ve got to be able to match them with advanced technology or better if you’re going to have a chance to bottle up threats and be able to detect problems that are emerging.”

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