January 14, 2014
Confer Launches Cyber Attack Prevention Network, Announces $8M Series A

Confer, the world's first cyberattack prevention "network", is coming out of stealth today and announcing an $8M Series A round of funding. The company will use a one-of-a-kind "open threat-sharing platform" to protect servers, laptops, and mobile devices from sophisticated cyber attacks, a vital security tool in an age when "Bring Your Own Device" programs are becoming the norm in almost every industry.

Confer's CEO Mark Quinlivan explained that Confer was built to "prevent advanced attacks from threats that traditional solutions miss." The company uses downloadable sensors that go beyond the protections that enterprises, schools, and home internet security allow; the sensors are device/hardware specific, bringing enhanced security in an age when most internet and mobile platform users operate outside of a single "bordered" network.

As the press release announcing the company's emergence stated, "a wirespeed, standards-based, threat-sharing platform, Confer allows companies to efficiently collect and share threat intelligence, enabling better protection while providing visibility into the behavior and intent of attackers, without requiring complex tools and deep security expertise."

The release also claimed that "organized, financially motivated attackers, whose rapidly evolving tactics, techniques and procedures easily outpace traditional signature-based security solutions," are the biggest threat to enterprises in an age when, "borderless networks, Software as a Service (SaaS) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies mean that organizations must defend an ever-growing attack surface."

The collaborative approach to cyber-security that Confer uses "focuses on understanding the attacker across the entire user community, rather than simply an individual attack." This crowdsourced solution, the company argues, "enables better protection."

Matrix Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners both backed Confer in its $8 million Series A round of funding.

Matrix Partners' Tim Barrows commented, “To date, all of the industry’s attempts to defend servers and endpoints have overlooked their potential as one of the richest sources for understanding the behavior of threat actors.”

“Well-resourced security organizations have moved to a collaborative, threat-based model, sharing information with one another," he added. "Confer automates this threat-sharing process and allows a much broader community to benefit from this approach.” 

The company is coming out of its stealth/pilot testing phase with a lot of confidence in its product thanks to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from beta testers.

Quinlivan said of the process, "We used our network in the financial services sector, the mobile space, and the defense-industrial space to validate the idea, build a prototype product, and run trials." Quinlivan also mentioned a few off-the-record pilot tests with research partners that he can't speak about presently.

"We thought we'd get a good reception," he said of the trial period, "but we ended up getting an exceptionally strong reception for the market."

As North Bridge's Jim Moran said, “The market reception Confer received during the pilot phase was outstanding.”

“We successfully piloted the technology in a wide range of companies from relatively small organizations to global multinationals. It is clear to me that Confer is delivering world-class security in a simple-to-use product that works for most companies.”

In an age when cyber attacks are getting more sophisticated, a company like Confer, who is leveraging new sensor technology and crowdsourcing, and focusing on devices and hardware rather than networks, may become a vital security resource for enterprises and consumers.

Confer lead a new generation of responses to the ever-growing threats of cyber crime and cyber warfare.

Dennis Keohane is the Senior Writer for VentureFizz. You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.