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A Clark School study at the University of Maryland found that there’s a hacker attack every 39 seconds, affecting one in three Americans annually. An estimated 43% of those attacks target small businesses, and they’re often successful. In 2018, hackers stole half a billion person records, a 126% jump from 2017.
To combat the growing threats, five entrepreneurs — Chris Cullison, Evan Blair, Hillary Herlehy, James Foster, and Robert Francis — cofounded ZeroFox (previously Riskive) in early 2013. The Baltimore, Maryland-based company provides a software-as-a-service (SaaS) suite for organizations to detect risks found on social media and digital channels, such as phishing, malicious file and link sharing, malware, scams, brand impersonator accounts, piracy, counterfeiting, and more. In a sign of confidence from lead investor Intel Capital and existing backers NEA, Highland Capital Partners, Redline Capital Management, Hercules Capital, and Core Capital, ZeroFox today announced that it’s secured $74 million a new round of financing, bringing its total raised to over $150 million.
CEO Foster, who led R&D at Foundstone and Guardent prior to their acquisitions by McAfee and Verisign, respectively, said that the capital will bolster ZeroFox’s expansion and advance its AI and machine learning capabilities. Notably, this latest funding follows a $40 million series C in July 2017 and a $27 million series B in December 2015.
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“ZeroFox is dedicated to helping customers proactively address threats initiated by today’s cyber agitators that occur across a quickly growing publicly accessible attack surface. This new class of threats are more difficult to identify and even tougher to remediate,” said Foster. “The challenges of both volume and sophistication of these types of attacks are accelerating at a pace that the security industry has never seen before; entire businesses and industries are at risk due to the gaps in security coverage unaddressed by legacy security vendors.”
ZeroFox grew from humble beginnings at Betamore, a startup incubator in Baltimore’s Federal Hill neighborhood. By 2016, the startup had outgrown its 8,000-square-foot space and moved to an office within a former Pabst Brewing facility in South Baltimore, and onboarded customers including Hootsuite, FirstCommand, Hawaii National bank, Umbro, and Bath Spa University.
In a nutshell, ZeroFox’s platform safeguards organizations using AI to ingest and analyze billions of posts, messages, and accounts across networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack, Instagram, GitHub, Twitter, Slack, Pastebin, TripAdvisor, Reddit, Medium, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube; mobile app stores like the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store; deep web and dark web domains; email; and more. Thanks to natural language processing systems and real-time object, image, and video classifiers working in tandem, ZeroFox can evaluate multiple threat vectors and assign ratings corresponding to the severity of risks.
ZeroFox offers a range of plans tailored to different use cases, including whole-enterprise, executive and VIP, employee, brand, web and domain, and advanced email protection. The plans harden accounts with protections against cybercrime, data loss, credential theft and more in each case and issue alerts when something is amiss, be it a noncompliant post or an employee-targeted scam. Additionally, the plans provide company security teams with automated controls and recommendations, as well as privacy settings instructions and information on emerging threats — all of which are vetted by ZeroFox’s team of experts.
ZeroFox also offers an election protection product aimed at political candidates, dignitaries, and campaigns, which Foster says is tuned to protect against threats targeting fundraising initiatives and other election-related activities. The turnkey subscription shields digital and social media assets owned by election campaigns and candidates while spotlighting threats and disrupting adversary efforts, in part by flagging suspect messages through banner warnings and removing malicious domains hosting attacker email addresses.
As a part of its election protection offering, ZeroFox employs location-based filters and AI to surface threats of violence against candidates and identify deepfake videos, or videos that take a person in an existing image, audio recording, or video and replaces them with someone else’s likeness using AI. In point of fact, it developed an open source toolkit — Deepstar — that’s designed to build and test algorithmic deepfake detection techniques, with a plug-in framework for classifier retraining and a library of deepfake and real videos culled from YouTube.
Separately and distinctly, ZeroFox offers a “takedown-as-a-service” solution that aims to automate the process of finding and removing unwanted content. It identifies and takes action on risks to brand reputation and customer engagement, hiding and blocking malicious, spoofed, and impersonating content where possible.
ZeroFox isn’t without competitors in the cyberthreat detection and remediation space. Ironscales employs AI and machine learning to defeat organization-wide phishing attacks in real time, and France- and Boston-based Vade recently raised $79 million to further develop its filtering stack that protects against compromise, malware, and spam. There’s also Tessian, which uses machine learning for securing enterprise mail, and Valimail, which nabbed $45 million last year to thwart email phishing attacks.
But ZeroFox is more holistic in its products than most, asserts Intel Capital vice president and senior managing director Anthony Lin.
“ZeroFOX has established itself as the global leader in the public attack surface protection marketplace,” said Lin. “The company’s best-in-class SaaS platform, AI capabilities, and exceptional business profile are a testament to the unquestionable value it delivers to customers. We’re looking forward to collaborating with the company to accelerate its strategic expansion globally, and its compelling technology roadmap.”