Apr 11, 2017

Microsoft invests in "hackers-as-a-service" startup

Former NSA analysts Jay Kaplan and Mark Kuhr have raised $21.25 million in new funding for their company, Synack — a sort of "good-hackers-as-a-service." The Silicon Valley startup's twist is that it hires vetted security researchers (currently from 46 countries), and then pays them to poke holes through its customers' networks — holes that could otherwise be found by bad actors. Kaplan tells Axios why that works:

You can't really beat a Russian hacker unless you have a Russian hacker on your side.

Why it matters: Synack is catching the eye of major enterprises like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Singtel, all of which are now investors. Synack will be able to lean on these companies' sales organizations, Kaplan says, adding that they could aid in international growth efforts.

Deal details: Microsoft Ventures led the funding round, with additional participation from HPE, Singtel Innov8, and existing investors like GGV Capital, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. A rep from Microsoft Ventures will join the board, as will Proofpoint CEO Gary Steele. Synack has now raised more than $55 million in total funding.

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