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Symmetry Systems, a platform that detects, responds, and protects against data breaches, today announced that it raised $15 million in series A financing led by Prefix Capital and ForgePoint Capital. The company says that the investment will support its growth initiatives, particularly in the areas of customer acquisition and recruitment.

Data breaches can be crippling for businesses. According to IBM, the global average cost of data compromise is $3.9 million, and typical breaches at publicly traded companies are estimated to cost $116 million. The vast majority of these breaches are preventable — consultancy Willis Towers Watson finds that over 90% of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error. But more than 77% of organizations don’t have an incident response plan, and most targets take six months to detect even large breaches.

Symmetry Systems’ DataGuard platform aims to provide visibility into objects across different data stores. It finds potentially sensitive customer data and highlights risky service roles, third-party vendors, developers, and analysts with access to the data, creating firewalls to shield data from being stolen.

Symmetry Systems runs in a sealed sandbox inside a hybrid cloud or on-premises datacenter. In addition to creating firewalls, it learns existing ones and provides evidence when they break, generating least-privileged identity and access management policies based on data-flow behaviors. The idea is to ensure security for data flows across accounts like Amazon Web Services, contractors, supply-chain services, and internet-accessible services while automating the parts of compliance reporting related to cloud permissions and access to protected data.


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Protecting data

Symmetry Systems, which is headquartered in San Francisco, California, emerged from the Spark Lab at the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Symmetry was cofounded by Mohit Tiwari, an associate professor at UT Austin focusing on security, privacy, and computer architecture research.

“My ex-student and cofounder … had been researching how to protect users’ data from applications and cloud services for several years. In May 2015, we committed to taking our research to practice and formed Symmetry,” Tiwari told VentureBeat via email. “We started a pilot with a complex-case hospital for children in Austin [and then] pivoted to work with the other end of the security spectrum to build data security into a Kubernetes platform … Over the last 6 quarters, we have refined our product with feedback from more than 100 organizations and our close advisors who run security or built security products at organizations like Netflix, Jask, Splunk, Auth0, among others.”

Symmetry Systems’ customers include Seven Bridges, which is using DataGuard to secure genomic and clinical data in the cloud. Partner ecosystem platform Crossbeam is another paying brand, as is visual collaboration startup Bluescape, which says it’s using DataGuard to provides insight into data-related risks such as exploited web services and insider threats.

“It makes sense to root organizations’ security in their data and identity as the two end-points — taking ‘zero trust’ principles to its logical conclusion — while taking applications, APIs, and more out of the trusted codebase,” Tiwari said. “Data security for the cloud brings really hard problems into a tough cocktail — data labeling is a fundamentally weak classifier, attackers generate adversarial inputs, the benign infrastructure is dynamic, and the scale of billions of data objects puts false positives well beyond the ability of regular humans and security-orchestration rules to handle. The only way out is to balance detection-response via machine learning and cloud-permissions tools to build workflows that are productive for cloud-security and data-governance engineers.”

With the most recent funding round, Symmetry Systems, which expects to have close to 30 employees by 2021, has raised $18 million in venture capital to date.

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