Nozomi Networks raises $100M to protect critical infrastructure

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Nozomi Networks, a company offering cybersecurity and operational visibility services for industrial control systems, today announced that it secured $100 million in a series D funding round led by Triangle Peak Partners, with participation from Forward Investments, Honeywell Ventures, Keysight Technologies, Porsche Digital, Telefónica Ventures, the U.S. government-affiliated In-Q-Tel, and others. The company says it’ll use the capital to help scale its product development initiatives as well as its go-to-market approach globally. Specifically, Nozomi will expand its sales, marketing, and partner enablement efforts and enhance its products to address new challenges in operational technology and internet of things (IoT) security markets, CEO Edgard Capdevielle said.

Ransomware and malware attacks on organizations and infrastructure are at an all-time high. According to one source, in 2017, ransomware and IoT attacks were up 350% and 600% year-over-year, respectively. Ransomware costs were expected to surpass $11.5 billion in as far back as 2019. And the situation worsened with the arrival of the pandemic, with the year 2020 breaking all records when it came to the sheer numbers of cyberattacks on companies, government, and individuals.

San Francisco, California-based Nozomi was founded in 2013 by Andrea Carcano and Moreno Carullo, who sought to apply machine learning to the challenge of device identification, behavioral analysis, and anomaly detection on IoT and control system networks. Carcano previously was a senior security engineer at Eni, the multinational oil and gas company, and published academic papers in the areas of malware and infrastructure security protocols.

“Expertise in industrial network security, AI, and machine learning, combined with passion for solving the unique challenges around critical infrastructure, led to Nozomi’s founding. As a senior security engineer for global oil and gas supermajor Eni, Carcano believed AI-drive software solutions could help solve common problem around … network visibility and threat detection,” Capdevielle explained to VentureBeat via email. “He teamed with long-time friend and AI specialist to develop software that detects intrusions to critical infrastructure control systems.”

AI-powered protection

In May, JBS, a Brazilian meat processor that serves as America’s largest source for beef and pork, discovered that hackers successfully compromised its internal networks. Also in May, attackers managed to get inside the network of oil and gas company Colonial Pipeline, temporarily halting the pipeline’s operations and spurring a short-lived energy crisis throughout the Southeast. And in February, hackers attempted to poison a Florida city water supply by remotely accessing a server.

The ramp-up in attacks on critical infrastructure have driven companies like Nozomi to new funding heights. Between it and chief rivals Dragos and Claroty, the three companies have raised roughly $350 million combined from institutional, corporate, and government investors over the last year.

“Cyber threats to industrial and critical infrastructure have reached new heights as threat actors double down on high value targets. With industrial organizations [scaling] connectivity to accelerate digital transformation and remote work, threat actors are weaponizing the software supply chain and ransomware attacks are growing in number, sophistication and persistence,” Capdevielle said. “The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, sped industrial connectivity, and driven requirements to support remote work. In response, large enterprises turned to Nozomi to implement projects to secure their operations and address emerging threats to the supply chain … Use cases stretch beyond cybersecurity, and include troubleshooting, asset management, and predictive maintenance.”

Nozomi’s software-as-a-service platform discovers assets on IT, operational technology, and IoT edge and public cloud networks and visualizes them, using a set of virtual sensors deployed throughout the network that passively monitor for changes. Leveraging a combination of vulnerability assessment and risk and threat detection, with a management console that integrates with existing security infrastructure, Nozomi delivers ongoing threat and vulnerability data as well as regular updates for anomaly spotting.

Nozomi offers a number of paid add-ons for its subscription services, including low-resource sensors that capture data from distributed locations to improve network visibility while ostensibly reducing deployment costs. Another upsell, smart polling, adds low-volume active polling as a step in the asset discovery process. Beyond this, the company hosts a free community edition of its product that uses passive technologies to detect devices operating within environments such as oil and gas pipelines, waste and water treatment processes, electric utility grids, and transportation systems, as well as map a network without disrupting operations.

In June, Nozomi’s plans to build a “cyber center of excellence” with Lockheed Martin moved forward when the Swiss Federal Council announced it had selected Lockheed Martin’s F-35 from its New Fighter Aircraft competition. Nozomi also recently joined forces with the Maryland Innovation and Security Institute and DreamPort, a cyber prototyping facility created by the U.S. Cyber Command, to bolster the U.S. Department of Defense supply chain and manufacturing base.

“We are a fast-growing company that is being recognized by the likes of analyst firm VDC as the market share leader in terms of revenue … We have hundreds of customers around the world — Nozomi solutions support more than 48 million devices in 3,400 installations across energy, manufacturing, mining, transportation, utilities, building automation, smart cities, and critical infrastructure,” Capdevielle said. “The company continues to experience strong year-over-year revenue growth including 110% growth in annual recurring revenue in 2020. Last year, the company doubled its customer base with a 90% increase in new customer revenues. During the same period, we accomplished 100% customer retention and 100% customer growth rates.”

To date, Nozomi has raised $154 million in venture capital from investors including Planven Investments SA, GGV Capital, Lux Capital, Energize Ventures, and THI Investments. The company plans to eventually go public, according to Capdevielle.

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