Censys lands new cash to grow its threat-detecting cybersecurity service

2023 proved to be a challenging year on the ransomware front after a brief lull in 2022. According to data from cryptocurrency tracing firm Chainalysis, victims had paid ransomware groups well over $400 million combined as of July 2023. Statista, meanwhile, reports that a whopping 72% of businesses have been affected by ransomware attacks as of 2023.

So it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise that, despite the broader dip in VC cybersecurity investments, anti-ransomware platforms are still perceived as a wise investment. Per Mordor Intelligence, the market for ransomware protection software could grow 15% over the next five years.

Certainly, one vendor, Halcyon, is experiencing a boon, having raised $44 million in a Series A round last April. The startup’s now closed a smaller Series B tranche — $40 million — that brings its total raised to $84 million.

Co-founder and CEO Jon Miller said that Halcyon didn’t need to raise again so soon but saw the value in entering into a relationship with new VCs, particularly Bain Capital Ventures (which led the Series B).

“This latest round will help acquire and retain crucial engineering talent to expand our product lines, enhance and build out our services offerings and bolster our sales and marketing efforts to help gain traction in a crowded industry,” Miller told TechCrunch in an email interview. “In short, the funds will be used to accelerate growth in all aspects.”

Miller and Ryan Smith co-launched Halcyon several years ago after stints at firms later acquired by Blackberry (Cylance) and Optiv (Accuvant). Today, Halcyon offers a range of tools designed to combat ransomware attacks, including anti-tamper protections, anti-data exfiltration software and what Miller calls “key material capture.”

Miller claims that, in part by tapping trained AI models, Halcyon can disrupt ransomware attacks and in some cases even decrypt devices impacted by attacks.

“The Halcyon platform is built to keep businesses operational even in the event of a widespread ransomware incident,” Miller said. “Typically, detection and prevention logic updates are manual and performed monthly — or even quarterly. This is too cumbersome and infrequent of a process to keep pace with attackers in a dynamic and ever-evolving threat landscape. Halcyon delivers an autonomous solution that continuously corrects itself against a false negative result in a matter of minutes.”

Miller certainly talks a big game. But Halcyon has customers to show for it, to be fair. The startup now counts over 100 “enterprise-level” brands as clients in addition to “state-level” school districts, Miller says.

But what about the competition? After all, plenty of vendors — from startups to incumbents — sell anti-ransomware solutions. Miller’s answer? Not really — mainly because he believes that Halcyon’s singular focus on prevention and remediation sets it apart from the crowd.

“Halcyon is the only company solely focused on battling ransomware with layers for both prevention and resilience,” Miller said. “Unlike most industry incumbents that are simply repurposing anti-malware solutions, Halcyon was designed from day-one to defeat ransomware and the company’s singular focus on this problem makes them significantly more effective at combating it.”

Should Halcyon’s good fortune continue, the company plans to double its 75-person workforce by the end of 2024.

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