Cyber security network Confer launches with $8M

Faith Merino · January 15, 2014 · Short URL:

Confer gets backing from Matrix Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners

Are you one of the unfortunate shmucks who happened to shop at a Target store between November 27 and December 15? You knew better. You knew it would be packed anyway, and you probably wouldn’t even be able to find parking. But bless your heart, you went anyway to get that spinning, whizzing light-up toy that was on sale, and now you’re paying dearly for it.

Target isn’t the first and won’t be the last major retailer to be hit with a major data breach. And it’s not just retailers at risk—banks, enterprises, and more also face sophisticated cyber threats. Cybercrime and cyber espionage is estimated to cost some $400 billion a year worldwide. In the U.S., the cost is estimated to be as high as $100 billion a year.

Enter Confer, a first-of-its-kind cyber security network that just came out of stealth mode Wednesday morning, with $8 million in funding from Matrix Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners.

Like other security solutions, Confer secures servers, laptops, and mobile devices, but what makes it unique is that it does so by way of collaborative platform. How do you collaborate on cyber security, you ask? CEO Mark Quinlivan gave me an example: banks.

“Banks care about threats to them and people that look like them, i.e. other banks. The likelihood that an attempted breach is coming from sophisticated attackers, who have already attempted to exploit other banks is much higher than seeing an attack from someone who is trying to steal GM's IP. Banks share this information today,” he said, but “it is just manual, phone calls, emails, proprietary platforms – very inefficient.”

Confer gives clients a secure peer-to-peer platform to share information regarding threats and data breaches via self-forming groups (bank to bank, pharma to pharma, etc.). Confer also uses the platform to crowdsource information such as IOCs (indicators of compromise) and “bad behaviors.”

The hackers of today are very sophisticated. They’re not the “high school or college hacker of yesterday,” said Quinliven. “They are sophisticated people and groups trying to steal your Intellectual Property, your data, your credentials or your money.”

Once installed, Confer operates completely from the cloud and gives enterprises and other clients a greater understanding of attacker behavior, who is attacking them, and why.

And for enterprises, the BYOD era means even greater vulnerability. Employees are working off the corporate network (outside of the network security systems) some 20% of the time. For executives, it’s even more—some 40% of the time.

Confer has been in stealth mode for 15 months, during which time it’s been gathering data via interviews and fact-finding missions with CIOs, CSOs, Heads of Threat Management and Security/IT Engineers.

"The fact that the vast majority of companies today do not even know when they are breached, let alone when they’re the subject of a concerted attack highlights the need for more comprehensive security visibility across the enterprise," said Jim Moran, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners, in a statement.

Confer plans to use the funds from its Series A to invest in product development and to expand its sales and marketing operations. 


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