The Santa Clara, California-based startup Awake Security plans to expand after raising $36 million in Series C funding. The company’s cybersecurity platform analyzes network traffic by using artificial intelligence (AI) and human expertise in order to identify internal and external threats.
The company was founded in 2014 and has since secured around $80 million in total funding, including the Series C round. New investors include Evolution Equity Partners, Energize Ventures, and Liberty Global Ventures, with existing investors being Bain Capital Ventures and Greylock Partners.
“We’re partnering with Awake because we believe its platform can have a big impact in the industrial sector,” Juan Muldoon, partner at Energize Ventures, said. “The challenges with protecting critical infrastructure are changing rapidly, and as the attack surface for digital threats expands, so have the blind spots for many organizations.”
An internally led undisclosed Series B round brought in $12 million in 2018.
“Awake has assembled the best minds in networking, machine learning, data science, cybersecurity, and other disciplines to create something entirely new that fills a massive void in the security market,” said Rahul Kashyap, CEO of Awake Security. “By partnering with Evolution Equity with its deep U.S. and European network and cybersecurity expertise, and strategic investors Energize Ventures and Liberty Global, we’re building on that momentum to bring the Awake platform to even more organizations around the globe.”
What Awake Security Can Do
Awake Security can identify all devices on a network, as well as whether the device is a phone, tablet, or something else. This allows transparency on networks, where companies can identify devices, users, and applications. The platform relies on machine learning to identify anomalous behaviors.
The cybersecurity platform combines unsupervised, supervised, and federated machine learning, which uses decentralized data, in order to identify security threats. This is more effective than platforms that rely strictly on unsupervised data, which can result in false positives.
Awake Security’s system allows security threats to be identified without overly-alerting security teams. Oftentimes, these teams can receive a large number of red flags due to safe behavior, such as individuals working from somewhere other than their usual locations.
The company has revealed “the world’s first privacy-aware security expert system,” in Ava. According to the company's website, “Ava combines federated machine learning (ML) with expertise from Awake threat researchers and security analysts to identify multi-stage attacks and enable automatic threat validation and triage.”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is causing an increase in cybersecurity threats around the world. Companies are not able to deal with cybersecurity issues as effectively as before, due to people not being in offices.
“COVID-19 is a prominent use case,” according to Evolution Equity partner Karthik Subramanian. “If we can identify attacks and compromises in this environment, hopefully we can do something about that. What has happened is the industry, as a whole, is moving toward smarter detection and response in a more timely manner.”
Subramanian led Cisco’s cybersecurity acquisition and investment team before joining Evolution Equity.
“We invested in Awake because we recognize its unique ability to help organizations fight modern threats. The traction and the third-party recognition Awake has received combined with our resources in and knowledge of the U.S. and European markets only bolsters our conviction,” continued Subramanian.
Increased Cybersecurity Spending and Expansion
Outside of the issues brought on by the current pandemic, spending on cybersecurity is expected to increase modestly by 2023.
Awake Security’s annual recurring revenue has increased by about 700 percent over the past year, with the company doubling its amount of employees.
The plan is for Awake Security to expand after the Series C funding, with Europe as the target. Europe is currently experiencing a skills gap as well as an increase in automation, which makes cybersecurity even more important during this time.