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Victoria’s Hyas raises US$16m amid global cybersecurity push

B.C. company specializes in thwarting cyberattacks
Credit: Getty Images/maxkabakov

If one were to think of cyberattacks as a cat-and-mouse game, Dave Ratner likens the traditional approach to relying on the same trap all the mice have long figured out how to evade.

“You innovate a little bit and the bad actor innovates a little bit. The only way to break that paradigm is to actually look at the problem space differently,” said the CEO of Victoria-based Hyas Infosec Inc.

Efforts to break that paradigm by focusing on a cyberattackers’ infrastructure rather than the individual attackers has caught the attention of investors putting up big bucks.

Hyas revealed Thursday (February 24) the close of a Series B round netting US$16 million.

The funding round was led by Texas-based S3 Ventures LLC, which will see partner Charlie Plauche join the Hyas board of directors as a result of the investment.

Ratner said the difference between traditional methods of thwarting cyberattacks and Hyas’ technology is similar to how call screening worked decades ago compared with how it works now: One might have once screened calls through an answering machine, but now most people rely on the conversations between computer networks to see what pops up on their smartphone’s caller ID.

“A phishing attack gets you to click on a link and go to a website that you don't want to go to that [hypothetically] looks like HSBC, [that] isn't really HSBC. Those are examples of attacker infrastructure where the attacker builds a domain or built infrastructure on the internet that they use to control their attacks,” Ratner said.

“If I understand that infrastructure on the internet and the fact that it’s owned by an adversary and used for nefarious means, why would we ever go talk to it? Why would I let you click on the link that takes you to adversary-owned infrastructure? Why would I let your devices in your enterprise communicate with the nefarious infrastructure?”

The fresh capital is being earmarked for its global expansion plans and for product development.

The company has a headcount of just under 30 people and Ratner said he hopes to double that number over the next 18 months.

While he hasn’t committed to opening any new physical offices as it expands globally amid the pandemic, the CEO said new workers will be hired in both Canada and the U.S.

Hyas currently has customers in five countries, ranging from organizations involved in finance to health care.

Ratner said he could not name any customers due to cybersecurity concerns but he described some of them as leading Fortune 100 companies.

The funding round also includes participation from Uncorrelated Ventures, Tightline Holdings, Cyber Mentor Fund, Dcode Capital as well as previous investors M12, Startup Capital Venture and 205 Capital.

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