Israeli ‘cyber-syndicate’ Team8 raises another $23m

Israeli ‘cyber-syndicate’ Team8 raises another $23m

After a successful debut by one of its companies, the cyber-secuirty accelerator draws plaudits from some of the world’s biggest investors

(L to R) Team8 Founders Nadav Zafrir, Liran Grinberg, and Israel Grimberg, (Courtesy)
(L to R) Team8 Founders Nadav Zafrir, Liran Grinberg, and Israel Grimberg, (Courtesy)

In a new round of financing, Team8, an accelerator-fundraiser-company creator in the cyper-security space, has raised $23 million in funding.

This follows a previous successful Round A in 2015 that raised $18 million – money that was used in part to fund Israeli cyber firm Illusive, which now has dozens of top tier customers around the world.

Joining last year’s funding partners – which included Google co-founder Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors – are new investors AT&T, Accenture, Nokia, Mitsui, and Temasek. Schmidt, along with previous investors Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Marker LLC, is back again for this round as well.

The aim of Team8, according to co-founder Nadav Zafrir, is to “build category-leading companies that challenge the biggest problems in cybersecurity.”

The company does not “invest” in cyber-security firms – it “creates” them,” according to Zafrir.

“By leveraging its research group, access to the best cyber talent, and a global network that gives Team8 companies access to customers, partners and key influencers, Team8 has reinvented the entire company-creation process,” the group said. “The result: a cyber innovation platform uniquely engineered to create category-leading cybersecurity companies that tackle the biggest problems in cybersecurity and help organizations reclaim the advantage over attackers.”

Zafrir, former commander of the Israeli army’s Technology & Intelligence Unit 8200, founded Team8 last year with 8200 veterans Israel Grimberg and Liran Grinberg

Team8’s biggest success story until now is without question Illusive Networks, which is just about a year old and already has many top-tier enterprise clients around the world. Illusive’s system sets up a legitimate-looking system with “juicy” looking data to attract hackers who use phishing techniques to break into systems. The hackers access phony log files, documents, and other items with nonsense data that look legitimate.

“As successful attackers move towards their target, they rely on one simple fact – that the data they collect is accurate,” said Illusive CEO Shlomo Touboul. “We tamper with that data and create an environment where attackers can’t rely on the information they gather. If the information is unreliable, the attack cannot move forward.”

Even while still in stealth mode (the company went public last June) Illusive was selected for Gartner’s exclusive list of “Cool Vendors” for 2015, so impressed were judges with the concept behind the product.

Gartner observed that “deceptive security technologies provide a refreshing and complementary approach to enterprise security. They point to an increasing interest by CISOs to apply commercial approaches to deceiving and trapping hackers by presenting false information on files, applications and other system information.” IT and security personnel, said Gartner, should “examine the benefits of Illusive because deception methods will become more prevalent in the future … they will prove effective and easy to deploy.”

For his part, Google’s Schmidt said that “Illusive Networks is a perfect example of the kind of ‘out of the box ‘thinking necessary to challenge the growing threat of targeted attacks.”

That was enough for AT&T; they want in, said John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President, AT&T Technology and Operations. “Cyberattacks are evolving and are no longer only a CIO, CSO or IT department issue. Breaches, leaked documents and cyberattacks impact customers, stock prices, brand reputation and competitive edge. This strategic investment is key to not merely iterating, but innovating against today’s highly adaptive attacker.”

Ditto Accenture, one of the world’s leading professional services companies, which will work with Team8 on a collaborative R&D agenda to innovate tailored solutions and strengthen the cybersecurity capabilities it delivers to enterprise clients, both companies said.

“We see significant opportunities to ideate with Team8 to deliver advanced cybersecurity capabilities that go well beyond establishing perimeter security and reactive cyber defense postures,” said Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology Officer of Accenture. “Through our unique model of collaborative R&D, we will bring together capabilities across our global network of Accenture Technology Labs and our technology ecosystem to develop breakthrough solutions to help clients adapt in a sophisticated threat landscape.”

“Cybers-security is a global issue and collaboration is critical to maintaining an advantage over today’s highly innovative and motivated attackers,” said Zafrir. “With the addition of our new strategic partners, we have not only created the world’s strongest cyber syndicate, but also the most diverse. We have partnered with companies from the United States, Europe and Asia who are at the forefront of technology, telecommunications, IT, infrastructure and professional services. Team8 and its partners are all committed to working together to fulfill our vision.”

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