Venture Capital

Team8 on Track to Build 5 Cybersecurity Companies by 2020

  • AT&T, Accenture, Nokia, Mitsui, Temasek join financing round
  • Team8 to launch second and third companies this year

Team8, a cybersecurity business foundry created by veterans of the Israeli army’s technology and intelligence unit 8200, said it closed a $23 million round of financing. Team8 plans to use the money to develop five companies over the next four years.

Investors in the round include AT&T Inc., Accenture Plc, Nokia Oyj, Mitsui & Co. Ltd., and Temasek Holdings Private Ltd. They join existing backers, including Cisco Systems Inc., Alcatel-Lucent SA, Bessemer Venture Partners, Marker LLC and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.

“The fact that we are taking on new investors is essential because they give us new vantage points and perspectives when we do research, innovation and validation,” said Nadav Zafrir, a former commander of unit 8200 and Team8 co-founder.

Security breaches are a growing problem. California said this month that more than 49 million personal records were compromised from 2012 to 2015. In the past three years, hacks have been reported at Home Depot Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., EBay Inc., health insurer Anthem Inc. and VTech Holdings Ltd. of Hong Kong. Target Corp. agreed to pay about $39 million to banks and credit unions to resolve losses from a 2013 holiday-season data breach.

“The only way forward is to come up with a holistic approach and be one step ahead, or a couple of steps ahead, of the attacker by putting resources together and creating the firepower,” said Zafrir. “Our investors give us access to market and infrastructure, and through this process, we are beginning to see a differentiated approach to cybersecurity altogether.”

Team8’s first company, Illusive Networks Ltd., launched last year with a product that plants false data in vulnerable parts of a company’s network. The technique is designed to entice hackers to trigger an alarm that allows the company to quarantine the compromised section. The next company, which is expected to go public in about two months, has a service for securing enterprise control networks -- once offline but increasingly connected -- such as data centers or air ventilation systems. The third, scheduled to debut in about four months, is what Zafrir calls an incident response company, or a SWAT team that can eradicate virtual attacks with minimum damage.

“We haven’t finalized what we will deal with next,” said Zafrir. “We are looking into the Internet of Things, mobile and cloud, and once we have these five companies -- I won’t say we will have 100 percent coverage, but through synergy, we will be able to approach enterprise security from a holistic vantage point.”

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