Columbia Spinout Allure Security Bags $5.3M to Guard Business Data

Allure Security Technology, a Boston-area cybersecurity startup with roots at Columbia University, announced Thursday it has raised $5.3 million in seed funding to grow its staff and enhance its software that is aimed at helping businesses protect against data loss.

The investment was led by Boston-based Glasswing Ventures, an early-stage venture firm that backs companies working on artificial intelligence technologies for connected devices and cybersecurity. Glasswing managing partner Rick Grinnell has joined Allure’s board. Other contributors to the investment include Greycroft, Zetta Venture Partners, and Portage Partners, according to a press release.

Waltham, MA-based Allure was formed based on research by a Columbia University team led by Salvatore Stolfo, an A.I. and data security scientist who serves as the company’s chief technology officer. The company won contracts totaling more than $10 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and other government agencies to develop technology to fight insider threats, nation-state attacks, and data loss, according to the press release. Allure’s core product is focused on what the startup calls “data loss detection and response,” applying technology that it says tracks and protects organizations’ documents inside and outside of the enterprise’s network.

As files move through a client’s network gateways, Allure’s product tags data with virtual “beacons” and then maps all the locations where the tagged documents are accessed, the company says on its website. Over time, the product learns what normal behavior looks like and sends alerts when it notices suspicious activity. The software also uses natural language processing and machine learning technologies to insert decoy data into files to try and catch “imposters or outsiders in the system,” the company says.

The company’s target customers include financial services firms, industrial companies, and healthcare organizations.

“For far too long, breaches have gone undetected because businesses had no way to track documents outside the enterprise network, and no way of knowing where those documents end up,” said Allure CEO Mark Jaffe (pictured) in a prepared statement. “This seed round enables us to continue to make enhancements to our platform and rapidly scale the company by adding strategic hires to support increased demand for the product.”

Jaffe was brought on in November. He previously led security startup Prelert. Grinnell also invested in Prelert (via Fairhaven Capital), which was acquired by Elastic in 2016.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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