Investors go ‘phishing’ for gold in the cybersecurity market. Greetings. This is Jonathan Vanian, filling in for Robert Hackett and Jeff John Roberts.
Investors see a potential gold mine in combating one of the oldest tricks by hackers.
Three cybersecurity startups specializing in technology to prevent phishing attacks raised nearly $140 million in venture capital in the past week, according to Crunchbase . In a phishing attack, criminals send legitimate-looking emails that trick people into clicking on the links in them and compromising their online security.
Despite several decades of phishing attacks, analysts still say the scams are the most effective way for hackers to breach corporate networks. All the spending on complicated tools that monitor network security can essentially be wasted if an unsuspecting worker responds to a shady email masquerading as a legitimate message from the boss.
Venture capitalists, hungry for the cybersecurity industry’s next big breakthrough, are excited about the rise of artificial intelligence as a possible solution to phishing attacks. All three startups that landed funding— Valimail, IronScales, and Vade Secure—use machine learning in their products to sift through data and try to stop attacks before they occur.
Valimail, for instance, uses machine learning to separate the legitimate sources of email from the bad ones. IronScales and Vade Secure, which works specifically with Microsoft Office 365, use machine learning to scan for anomalies hidden in email messages.
Whether these tools can prevent the next big corporate hack remains to be seen. As Amy Chang, head of strategic intelligence and cybersecurity operations for JPMorgan Chase , said during Fortune’s Brainstorm Finance conference this past week, hackers are increasingly updating their phishing schemes to bypass security tools and prey on their victims.
Chase cited how a criminal called an employee at an unspecified financial services firm and convinced the worker to access a scam email that compromised the business’s security. This type of phishing attack is called “vishing,” which is a mix of “voice” and “phishing,” and it’s becoming more common, she noted.
Maybe the next big cybersecurity bet by venture capitalists will involve startups that specialize in A.I. that detects hackers, merely by listening to their voices.