CounterTack Collects $9.5M for Cyber Security, Opens Boston-Area Headquarters

11/17/11Follow @gthuang

For every tech company that leaves Boston, it seems, another one moves in. In this case, the local security software cluster just got stronger—and a new approach to combating cyber attacks has arrived.

CounterTack, a security company formerly known as NeuralIQ, has rebranded itself and moved its headquarters from Alexandria, VA, to Waltham, MA. The company has just raised $9.5 million in Series A financing led by Fairhaven Capital of Cambridge, MA, with other private investors also participating in the round.

As part of the deal, CounterTack has brought in new management. Neal Creighton, the former CEO and co-founder of GeoTrust (sold to VeriSign for $125 million in 2006), has been named CounterTack’s chief executive. Creighton, a data security and authentication expert based in the Boston area, most recently co-founded RatePoint and AffirmTrust. Other new members of the leadership team include John Adams, chief technology officer; Jim Harrison, chief financial officer; John Worrall, executive vice president of product management and marketing; and Robert Potter, senior vice president of sales. Meanwhile, founder and chief architect Alen Capalik and chairman William Fallon (a retired admiral in the U.S. Navy) are staying on with the company.

Part of what’s driving the new investment is the emerging trend around “advanced persistent threats.” Essentially, these are cyber attacks that target a corporation’s or institution’s software applications, data, employees, or end users. The goal is to steal sensitive information about finances, infrastructure, intellectual property, and so on. The attacks are tough to guard against with traditional perimeter defense techniques like firewalls or virus detection. Instead, they require an organization to look deep inside its own networks and applications and root out problems from within.

That’s where CounterTack, and a number of other security tech companies, come into play. CounterTack uses virtualization software to boost customers’ network intelligence and try to detect attacks that are currently in progress. Exactly how the technology works is a little vague (probably by design), but presumably network operators and administrators can respond to the cyber threats once they know about them.

CounterTack, which started in 2004, has fewer than 50 employees. The company says it plans to hire 12-15 new staff in Waltham over the next year. It is also keeping its Virginia office as a sales outpost.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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