Austin’s LiveOak Invests in San Antonio, Dallas Security Startups

LiveOak Venture Partners has made a new pair of investments in startups related to cyber and operational security.

The larger of the investments, $3.5 million, goes to Razberi Technologies, a suburban Dallas maker of a plug-and-play video surveillance system.

“You take a megapixel camera and plug into our device with a cable and you have a recording system installed,” says Tom Galvin, Razberi’s CEO. “You don’t have to understand IP addresses or networking.”

Typically, such surveillance systems require the purchase of not only a camera, but also servers and switches—and the knowledge of how to put them all together.

The three-year-old company is based in Carrollton, TX, and sells its systems through distributors. Among the customers using Razberi’s technology is a bank in England, which is installing the devices in 1,000 branches; a Mexican retailer that has bought 900 of them for its locations; and U.S. federal government facilities, including a Veterans’ Affairs hospital.

“We’ve had sales since month one,” says Galvin, who previously worked in security operations at GE. “With the new investment, we can do more in brand awareness and marketing and sales.”

LiveOak Venture, which is based in Austin, TX, separately announced that it had also put $500,000 into Infocyte, a cyber security software firm based in San Antonio, TX. The startup has roots in the U.S. Air Force, where co-founder Chris Gerritz was most recently the chief of defensive counter cyber operations at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

“In the last few years, we’ve been involved in roles that had us cyber operations against state-sponsored actors,” he says of his work with Infocyte co-founder Ryan Morris. “When hackers work at that level, they aren’t being caught by standard vendor products.”

The “malware hunting” tools that they developed to defend the Air Force’s digital network inspired them to found Infocyte last May. “Our appliance scans all of your workstations and servers looking for indications of compromise, backdoor or unauthorized activity,” Gerritz says.

Business have installed security monitoring equipment to harden their networks. “But hardening the front door won’t help if you already have an attacker entrenched inside the network,” he says. “Our assessment platform is basically sweeping every room in the house, looking in the closet and all the places the attacker might hide after breaking in.”

A common misconception about hacking is that it’s akin to smash-and-grab, Gerritz says. “This is what separates opportunistic hackers from ‘advanced persistent threats’ or APT,” he says. “The APT wants to remain in your network forever undetected—and they commonly do. The ones that are found and reported on are the minority.”

Home Depot, for example, had been breached for 5 months before detection, during which time hackers were able to siphon off millions of credit cards to Eastern Europe, Gerritz added. Incident response companies currently on the market are only brought in after the attack is confirmed. “What we have done is reduce the time, cost, and equipment requirements of incident response,” he says. “We schedule a walkthrough of the house just to make sure nobody is hiding there.”

In addition to doing sweeps through each “room” of a system, Gerritz says Infocyte’s software is less expensive than what’s on the market now because it does not have to be installed onto each workstation in a network and can reside on a company’s main server.

The startup, which has raised a total of $700,000, has been doing security assessments for medium-sized banks and credit unions and will officially sell its software starting in January. The plan is to both sell directly to large businesses with in-house monitoring operations as well as license the software to third-party security providers.

 

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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