The recent cyberattacks on Target, Sony, Anthem, eBay, JPMorgan and Home Depot all share a common trait: They overpowered the very technology designed to stop them. Same situation with the 2014 Heartbleed bug, a major security vulnerability that left numerous websites open to data theft.
Data breaches are a systemic problem, and now a father-son start-up—backed by venture firm heavyweight Andreessen Horowitz—is hoping to change the cybersecurity paradigm.
Andreessen Horowitz has poured $142 million, including a $52 million investment announced earlier Tuesday, in Tanium, a Berkeley, California-based creation of David and Orion Hindawi. The venture firm values the little-known start-up at around $1.75 billion.
Tanium's strategy is simple. Companies broadly can't build walls high enough to shield themselves from attacks. But businesses can dramatically reduce the damage bad guys can inflict once they've hurdled the virtual barriers.
"The best they can do is find out the attackers have come in as quickly as possible and prevent them from reaching the crown jewels of the organization," said Tanium Chief Technical Officer Orion Hindawi, who founded the company with his dad, David, in 2007. With the old stuff, "you're playing a game of whack-a-mole. You're chasing somebody but you're always three days behind."
Tanium, which sells to half the Fortune 100 companies, has introduced new products and features, such as integrating more third-party tools to improve threat detection. Another addition is an incident response tool to help companies "hunt, contain and neutralize attacks at any scale in seconds."
For Andreessen Horowitz, which has backed Bay Area high fliers such as Airbnb, Box, Instacart, Jawbone, Pinterest and Slack, Tanium is right up there with its biggest investments. The Menlo Park, California-based firm put in $90 million in May, Tanium's first-ever funding round.
Steven Sinofsky, former president of Microsoft's Windows division, led the investment for Andreessen. What got him so excited?