Cybersecurity startup Kasada has raised $6.5 million from the CSIRO’s innovation fund, Main Sequence Ventures, and Westpac’s Reinventure Group to ramp up its technology to tackle automated bots attacking websites.
The raise comes 12 months after Kasada’s wunderkind founder and CEO, Sam Crowther, first raised $2.5 million for his venture.
Kasada’s cloud-based tech product, Polyform, detects and mitigates against malicious attacks by bots to protect websites and web applications from credential stuffing, fraud, account takeover and data-scraping attacks. It finds malicious web traffic undiscovered by other security measures and uniquely, tackles it as an economic, rather than a tech issue. It protects against the dark web’s inventory of stolen user credentials and automated fraud tools.
Crowther, who first started selling software at age 9, and was building websites as a side-hustle during high school, founded Kasada in 2015 as a teenager.
Now 23, Crowther said the company will use the latest cash injection to accelerate Polyform’s engineering, R&D, and go-to-market expansion. The business now has offices in Sydney and the US.
“From a standing start a little over four years ago, Kasada is now trusted by ASX 100, Forbes Global 2000, and mid-sized enterprises in Australia, the US and the UK,” he said.
“We have taken an idea for better security and now demonstrated its capability in boardrooms in New York and Chicago.”
The other benefits Polyform provides include reducing the network bandwidth and computing infrastructure costs caused by bots as well as improving the accuracy of digital marketing and web analytics.
Main Sequence Ventures led the investment and fund partner, Mike Zimmerman, a software-as-a-service expert, will join Kasada’s board.
It’s the first time MSV has invested in cyber-security. Zimmerman said tackling the growing challenge of stopping sophisticated cyberattacks fits within the fund’s remit of backing ventures addressing large and difficult problems.
“Most organisations don’t realise that the majority of their web traffic is non-human, controlled by sophisticated criminals impersonating humans to deceive, defraud and disable,” he said.
“Kasada’s Polyform platform is a world-leading solution to help humans fight back against bad bots.”
Reinventure Group was part of 2018’s initial funding round and co-founder and MD Danny Gilligan will continue in his advisory role with Kasada.
“We continue to be impressed by the brilliance of the Kasada team, the reaction of sophisticated customers to their capability and the growing realisation of the importance of protecting data assets as the data economy matures,” Gilligan said.
“While protection against cyber criminals is critically important, organisations are increasingly exposed to more banal threats from scraping attacks from competitors and other commercial actors and Kasada is the perfect solution.”
Gilligan also sees massive opportunity in burgeoning market, with spending on enterprise firewalls and cloud security is forecast to reach $17.2 billion annually by 2020.
“Kasada is part of the exciting new wave of cybersecurity, thwarting attackers with economic disincentives rather than technological barriers.”
Sam Crowther said successful businesses know cyber-security, data protection and the customer experience are inextricably linked when it comes to building trust.
“As cyber criminals increasingly use automation to attack websites and web applications, automation is therefore the key to keeping up where human analysts cannot,” he said.
“Kasada Polyform secures millions of e-commerce and other internet transactions, every day. It shifts the balance of power from the adversary to the enterprise by making attacks computationally more expensive for attackers and thereby disrupting their business model.”
AustCyber CEO Michelle Price said the investment from MSV and Reinventure is both “a strong affirmation of the scalability and applicability of Kasada’s capability offering” and proof that Australia’s cyber security capability is world-class
“This is a wonderful achievement for Kasada, with an all-Australian investor round,” she said.