IBM buys Israeli cybertech startup to automate cloud data protection management

Polar Security is IBM’s fifth acquisition in 2023; Israeli startup’s technology automates the detection, classification, and flow of sensitive data across cloud environments

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

The logo for IBM appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, March 18, 2019. (AP/ Richard Drew/ File)
The logo for IBM appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, March 18, 2019. (AP/ Richard Drew/ File)

US tech giant IBM has acquired Israeli cyber startup Polar Security, a developer of an automated data security platform to track and protect sensitive data across hybrid cloud-based systems.

The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Estimates in the Hebrew press put the price tag at $60 million.

The Tel Aviv-based startup has built a so-called data security posture management (DSPM) platform, an emerging cybersecurity technology that tracks where sensitive data is stored, who has access to it, and how it’s used, and detects potential data vulnerabilities and compliance violations. It creates reports with the most pressing security risks and compliance violations and provides an analysis of the underlying causes and practical recommendations to address them.

As part of the deal, IBM plans to integrate Polar Security’s DSPM technology within its Guardium family of data security products developed in Israel. Polar Security’s workforce of about 20 employees will be joining Israel-founded Guardium, which IBM bought in 2009.

Polar Security was founded in 2021 by cybertech veteran Dov Yoran, chairman; Guy Shanny, CEO, who founded, built and sold a web vulnerability research and hosting company at age 14; and Roey Yaacovi, CTO, recipient of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Award for Best Technological Operational Project Achievement. In 2022, the startup raised $8.5 million in a seed financing round led by Glilot Capital Partners with the participation of IBI Tech Fund and angel investors including co-founder & CEO of Cloud Security Alliance Jim Reavis.

“The integration of Polar Security’s technology into IBM’s cybersecurity solutions adds an important layer of observability onto corporate data – the fuel that drives the digital economy – and empowers the ways to protect it wherever it resides,” said IBM Israel manager Shai Banaim. “IBM’s advanced technology and security solutions currently protect the corporate information of thousands of companies, including some of the global leaders in finance, industry, infrastructure, transportation and energy – and shape the next generation of cybersecurity.”

Illustrative. Cybersecurity technology. (Stock Depot via iStock by Getty Images)

The era of digital transformation and cloud migration has led to an explosion in the number of known and unknown or so-called shadow data stores sharpening the need for data security across multiple cloud environments. Since April 2020, IBM has bought more than 30 companies to bolster its hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence capabilities.

“While companies are moving extensive amounts of their data to the public cloud and SaaS applications, they lack visibility of where their sensitive data is, who can access the data, and where that data is going,” said Shanny. “A lethal combination that makes it very difficult to prevent data exposure and compliance violations.”

Polar Security is IBM’s fifth acquisition this year. Last year, the tech giant snapped up Israeli startup, a developer of a data observability software platform for data scientists and engineers. As part of the deal, Databand employees joined the IBM Data and AI division in Israel to bolster IBM’s portfolio of data and AI products including its IBM Watson, a question-answering computer system, and IBM Cloud Pak for Data, a data analytics platform. Other acquisitions in Israel by IBM in recent years include Trusteer, XIV, and EZSource.

IBM has been active in Israel for decades and runs an R&D center in Tel Aviv and a research lab in Haifa.

The Haifa team is the largest lab of IBM Research Division outside of the United States. Founded as a small scientific center in 1972, it grew into a lab that leads the development of innovative technological products and cognitive solutions for the IBM corporation. Its various projects utilize AI, cloud data services, blockchain, healthcare informatics, image and video analytics, and wearable solutions.

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