Vectra Raises $100M More for Cybersecurity AI

Vectra has garnered another $100 million in funding to accelerate development of a threat detection and response system running in the cloud that makes extensive use of artificial intelligence (AI). This latest round of funding brings the total investment in Vectra to $200 million.

Company CEO Hitesh Sheth said Vectra’s Cognito platform applies machine learning algorithms to network metadata captured across the extended enterprise. Data scientists working for the company then use the analytics generated by Cognito to create an AI model on behalf of the customer. As that AI model continues to be tuned, potential threats are automatically triaged, prioritized based on risk level and correlated with compromised host devices. That capability condenses the amount of effort required on the part of cybersecurity professional as tasks that once took weeks or months are reduced to minutes, said Sheth.

The Cognito platform employs behavioral detection algorithms to analyze metadata from captured packets rather than relying on deep packet inspection to identify threats. That capability enables Cognito AI to detect hidden and unknown attacks in real time regardless of whether traffic is encrypted or not.

At a time when there is a chronic shortage of cybersecurity expertise with no signs of abating anytime soon, Sheth said the only viable alternative to resolving persistent cybersecurity issues is to rely more on AI. The challenge is that as the hype surrounding cybersecurity AI continues to increase, it’s becoming difficult for organizations to distinguish between real data science and companies that are applying machine learning algorithms to automate a handful of tasks.

As IT environments become more complex, Sheth noted, defending IT environments will only become more challenging. Not only are there now more types of applications workloads being deployed, he said cybersecurity teams today need to monitor a much higher rate of change. At the same time, many workloads are being deployed on cloud computing platforms that cybersecurity teams are being asked to trust. The Cognito platform provides a mechanism that enables cybersecurity teams to analyze network traffic wherever it flows, which Sheth said provides a way for cybersecurity teams to verify the security of platforms they don’t directly manage.

Timing is everything when it comes to preventing and remediating security breaches. The first priority is to limit the number of threats that could harm the enterprise. Given the increased sophistication and volume of the threats being faced, it’s unlikely any organization is going to combat cybercriminals effectively without relying on some form of AI. In fact, chances are high many cybercriminals are starting to employ AI to better target their attacks. Organizations will need to invest in cybersecurity AI just to keep the odds relatively even.

Naturally, Vectra is not the only cybersecurity vendors investing heavily in AI. However, according to the company, Vectra saw 104% growth in annual recurring revenue in 2018 compared to a relatively small base of revenue in 2017. The issue that has yet to determined is just how much money any cybersecurity vendor must raise and spend to win the cybersecurity AI arms race.

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Michael Vizard

Michael Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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