CounterTack Adds $12M Series B to Stop IT Attacks at the Front Door

10/16/13Follow @curtwoodward

It’s an immutable law of the Internet: if you’ve got a valuable network, someone’s going to attack. The tricky part is how to defend yourself.

The way Neal Creighton sees it, the IT industry has not spent nearly enough time watching the “endpoints”—servers and individual computers—that can serve as a front door for malicious hackers.

Those entry points are guarded largely by venerable anti-virus names like MacAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro. And, as you might expect from the CEO of an upstart competitor, Creighton says those companies’ answers aren’t quite cutting it anymore.

“There’s lots of money being spent on anti-virus technology,” says Creighton, CEO of Waltham, MA-based CounterTack. “The problem is that these things are easily evaded—and I think everyone knows it.”

As of today, CounterTack officially has more cash to fuel its effort to fill that gap. The company says it has closed a $12 million Series B investment round, with investors including Goldman Sachs and Fairhaven Capital.

The money will help CounterTack expand its sales and marketing force, and add some engineering capacity to keep up with its hoped-for increase in new customers.

“It’s really about expanding the company,” Creighton says. “The endpoint security market is where I really believe the next great security company is going to be built.”

CounterTack has been at this for a while, with plenty of changes along the way.

The company was founded in 2004 in Alexandra, VA, under the name NeuralIQ. In 2011 the company rebranded itself, moved to the Boston area, added several new members to its management team, and raised a $9.5 million in Series A financing led by Cambridge-based Fairhaven.

Creighton was one of those new executives. He’s an expert in data security and an experienced entrepreneur, having co-founded GeoTrust (purchased for $125 million in 2006), RatePoint, and AffirmTrust. The company last raised money earlier this year, adding about $4.3 million to the Series A.

So what does CounterTack do that’s so special? In general terms, the company’s software sits undetected at a very basic level of an operating system, watching everything that goes on from a network and security perspective.

Being able to lie in wait allows CounterTack’s software to watch as the inevitable malicous attackers start running through the checklist of things they need to try gaining further access and taking control of a system. That way, it can stop them from doing too much damage while also learning from the hackers’ methods.

“They can’t turn it off. They don’t know they’re being watched,” Creighton says.

The new infusion of cash gives CounterTack some time to make its case more aggressively in the market. And Creighton says there’s also more interest from investors—the Series B round was oversubscribed and is likely to be expanded later.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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