Cybersecurity firm Fortanix secures capital to provide confidential IT services

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Enterprises (and VCs) spend billions of dollars on cybersecurity, but mostly focus on protecting infrastructure or endpoints. That’s not always the right approach in a world where, thanks to the pandemic, data is increasingly spread across clouds, software-as-a-service applications, and storage systems. According to a 2021 survey, 61% of corporate security leaders believed their cybersecurity teams were understaffed.

“Enterprises and government agencies are looking for a new approach to protecting their data wherever it resides, especially in the cloud,” Ambuj Kumar told TechCrunch via email. He is CEO and co-founder of Fortanix, which aims to decouple security from network infrastructure to ensure data security even when the infrastructure has been compromised. “They demand the protection of their sensitive and regulated data, throughout its lifecycle – at rest, in motion and in use.”

Kumar, being something of a salesman, postulates that Fortanix is ​​one of the most holistic solutions to the growing challenge of data security. Some investors agree. Fortanix today closed a $90 million Series C funding round led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity with participation from Giantleap Capital, Foundation Capital, Intel Capital, Neotribe Ventures and In-Q-Tel (the strategic investor nonprofit for the U.S. Intelligence Community) which brings its total raised to $122 million, which Kumar says will primarily be used to expand sales and marketing operations and open new offices in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Down.

“Amid a general market downturn, growth cycles have slowed significantly. At the same time, investors have plenty of dry powder and companies with a strong revenue profile and profitable business model are attracting a lot of attention,” Kumar said. “We are lucky to be such a company. History shows that great companies are built in a tough economic climate as competitors go unfunded, talent becomes more available, and customers consolidate into stronger products.

Kumar founded Fortanix alongside Anand Kashyap in 2016. Kumar was previously head of hardware design at Nvidia and chief architect of the cryptography division at Rambus. Kashyap was a senior security researcher at Symantec before becoming an engineer at VMware.

Fortanix sells access to software that secures data in public, hybrid, multicloud, and private cloud environments and encrypts databases, as well as manages application secrets (for example, usernames and passwords). password) both in the cloud and on premises. In addition to cryptographic services, Fortanix also provides Confidential Computing, a cloud computing technology that isolates sensitive data in an encrypted CPU enclave during processing so that the contents of the enclave are accessible only to authorized programming code. .

Fortanix’s confidential computing technology is based on Intel’s well-established SGX platform. Hardware-based security technology uses trusted hardware in the processor to create the aforementioned enclave, allowing, for example, data teams in regulated industries like financial services and healthcare to use data private while maintaining anonymity.

Driven by these types of use cases, at least one company predicts that the confidential computing market will reach $54 billion by 2026. Adoption of confidential computing technologies has indeed accelerated in recent years, along with technology companies such as Intel, Google, Microsoft, Arm and Red Hat found an organization, the Confidential Computing Consortium, to advance data protection standards. Startups with rival confidential computing solutions include Opaque Systems, Edgeless Systems and Decentriq.

“To better protect sensitive data, it helps to think about it across multiple dimensions of the lifecycle — that is, when it’s at rest, in transit, or in use,” continued Kumar. “Often the third dimension, when data is used, is overlooked due to inadequate safeguard mechanisms or a false notion of security. Several recent and serious malware attacks have occurred in the state of use, including the Triton attack and the Ukrainian power grid attack. [Fortanix’s] The technology protects sensitive “in-use” applications and data from unauthorized access and tampering when they are highly vulnerable, extending the security already in place for data at rest and in motion on the network. »

Fortanix claims to have more than 125 customers worldwide, including Adidas, Google, PayPal, GE Healthcare, the US Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Partners include Elastx and Alibaba Cloud, which run Fortanix’s key management service on their platforms, and Equinix, which uses Fortanix to power its bespoke security service. Another occasional contributor is IBM Cloud – it’s partnered with Fortanix on a service that protects data in use.

“In most cases, our main job is to convince customers that trying to secure their network is not enough and to educate them on the benefits of data-centric security. In a minority of cases, we compete with legacy data security vendors like Thales and HashiCorp,” Kumar added.

Kumar declined to reveal income figures when asked. But he assured me that Fortanix continues to grow, with plans to increase its workforce of 225 people by 50% next year.

“We are certainly sensitive to macroeconomic conditions. However, data security and privacy is a priority for businesses around the world, and we continue to see a strong demand for our offerings,” Kumar said.

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