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Tessian, London cybersecurity startup bags £46M to solve new-age digital security challenges

Image credits: Tessian

London-based Tessian, a cybersecurity company that uses machine learning to automatically predict and eliminate advanced threats on email caused by human error, has bagged $65 million (nearly £46 million) in a Series C funding round.

To expand its platform’s capabilities

The investment round was led by March Capital, a VC firm that had backed cybersecurity unicorns – CrowdStrike and KnowBe4. Also, existing investors, including Accel, Latitude, Balderton Capital, and Sequoia Capital participated in this round alongside new investor Schroder Adveq. With this, the total investment in Tessian is now $120 million (nearly £85 million) and its valuation is now $500 million (nearly £353 million).

Tessian wants to use the investment to accelerate its mission of quantifying and preventing human risk in global enterprises and empowering people to do their best work without security getting in the way. The company will expand its platform’s capabilities, helping companies replace their secure email gateways and legacy data loss prevention solutions, and will soon expand beyond email to secure other interfaces like messaging, web, and collaboration platforms. Also, Tessian eyes to triple its rapidly growing employee base with a specific focus on its sales team in North America.

Jamie Montgomery, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at March Capital said, “Human activity – whether inadvertent or malicious – is the leading cause of data breaches. In Tessian, we found a best-in-class solution that automatically stops threats in real-time, without disrupting the normal flow of business. It is rare to hear such overwhelmingly positive feedback from CISOs and business users alike. We came to the same conclusion; Tessian is rapidly emerging as the leader in human layer security for the enterprise.”

Tim Sadler, Co-Founder and CEO at Tessian said, “In the same way we have firewalls to secure networks, and endpoint detection and response platforms to secure devices, enterprises now need advanced security technology to secure their people. People make 35,000 decisions every day; it just takes one wrong decision or one instance of human error for an employee to cause a catastrophic security breach. We’re tackling the biggest threat to enterprise security, and are thrilled to partner with March Capital on our Series C and have them join our mission to secure the human layer.”

New approach to cybersecurity

Founded in 2013 by Edward Bishop, Tom Adams, and Tim Sadler, Tessian is pioneering a new approach to cybersecurity. Also, it is defining a new category of security software called Human Layer Security. Today, 90% of today’s data breaches are caused by some form of human error, and cybersecurity software has focused on the machine layer of an organisation and not the most vulnerable asset: the people.

While organisations have relied on training programs or restricting people’s access to data and systems to overcome this issue, Tessian uses machine learning to stop data breaches and security threats caused by human error sans disrupting employee workflow. It builds Behavioral Intelligence Models, tailored to every employee, by analysing individuals’ communication patterns and behaviours online.

Tessian uses the models to automatically detect security threats and prevents them from turning into breaches by notifying the employee of the risk at the moment. Over time, these alerts help employees improve their security behaviours. Currently, the company secures people on email – where they spend over 40% of their time at work. Eventually, it prevents threats, including phishing, business email compromise, data exfiltration, and accidental data loss. With Tessian’s solutions, enterprises are touted to have witnessed an 84% reduction in data exfiltration and phishing simulation click-through rates have dropped to less than 1%.

Protects from human-layer security threats

The need for greater visibility of human-activated security risks, and mitigations of these threats, was brought into sharp focus last year following the shift to remote work. Research revealed that employees were less likely to follow safe data practices when working from home, while the number of phishing attacks doubled in 2020.

Last year, Tessian tripled its Fortune 500-level customer base as enterprises required a solution that could protect them against human layer security threats. Tessian now has approximately 350 global customers across the legal, financial services, healthcare, and technology sectors including Affirm, Investec, and RealPage.

Tim Fitzgerald, CISO at Arm, one of Tessian’s customers said, “The security of our operations and data is paramount to the success of Arm, and we’re committed to empowering our people to make sound security decisions while doing their jobs effectively. The concept of human layer security is becoming a critical part of doing business today. Tessian enables us to reduce risk across the organization by providing valuable tools and knowledge to not only stop threats like advanced phishing attacks and accidental data loss but also continually improve the security behaviors of our teams as the threat landscape evolves.”