As the world increasingly transacts a greater proportion of its business via the web, there is a corresponding increase in attacks against those sites. The sad reality is that malicious activity scales at a similar rate as the legitimate use of a technology increases - as more stuff happens on the web, more bad stuff happens also.
And these attacks are getting more sophisticated and more successful. In recent times there has been a large crescendo in the number of external attacks that have been successful - while high-profile breaches such as Target and Anthem get the lion's share of press attention, perhaps more worrying is the large number of smaller organizations that are targeted. While larger organizations often have the resources to mitigate attacks, small players often don't. Interestingly, only 41% of web traffic originated from humans - while part of the remaining 59% comes from legitimate sources (web services calling individual sites for data example), a not-insignificant proportion comes from bad players.
It is for this reason that the growth in investment in the security space is positive. All of these new players have the potential to democratize high-quality security services so that all organizations, large and small, can protect against attack.
One example of that funding is Distil Networks, a bot detection and mitigation company that is announcing a $21 million Series B funding round today. The round was led by new investor Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from current investors Foundry, TechStars, ff Venture Capital, Idea Fund, and Correlation Ventures. This round takes total funding for Distil to $38 million to date.
Distil's focus is on defending websites against malicious bots, the sort of bots that get used for malicious scraping brute force attacks, competitive data mining, account hijacking, unauthorized vulnerability scans, spam, man-in-the-middle attacks, and click fraud. The way Distil actually works is interesting - it monitors every single web request and builds a kind of a digital fingerprint of every incoming connection. By doing so, it allows the platform to detect, flag and block bad players from all the other websites protected by the platform. To date, Distil has locked over 50 billion bad bots - a perfect example of the value to be gained by using individual data on a broad scale.
Distil seems to be succeeding from a business perspective. The company claims 400% revenue growth over the past year, as well as some high-profile customers: Glassdoor, CrunchBase, FindTheBest.com, and Wayfair among them. As the sheer number of bad bots increases, the company has a real opportunity.
"Malicious bots have become increasingly more pervasive, sophisticated, and detrimental to companies around the world, and Distil is the only solution that is purpose-built to identify and stop 99.99% of bad bots without affecting users," said Distil Networks CEO and Co-founder Rami Essaid. "This latest round of funding combined with the momentum we've experienced since bringing our product to market further validates the need for a superior level of protection against malicious bots from attacking a company’s Web infrastructure."
Anyone who is making the web a safer place needs to be applauded. I especially like the fact that Distil is feeding learnings from one particular site back into the platform itself and thus creating a positive feedback cycle. We're never going to completely stop the bad guys, but Distil makes their life slightly harder.
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