World Security Report2013-08-07 11:27:20

Cybersecurity pioneer Barrett Lyon unveils Defense.net to combat the newest DDoS attacks on large enterprise critical infrastructure

Bessemer Vvnture partners leads $9.5 million in funding to combat increasing scale and sophistication of DDoS attacks which are overtaxing traditional solutions.

Defense.net a company designed to mitigate the increasing scale and sophistication of modern Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, came out of stealth mode today and announced $9.5 million in funding and an executive team of the USA's top DDoS experts, including Prolexic Technologies' Founder and DDoS mitigation pioneer Barrett Lyon as Founder and CTO. The funding is led by Bessemer Venture Partners, a premiere venture capital firm with a long history of successful security investments.

"A decade ago, small scale DDoS attacks by today's standards shut down off-shore cyber casinos for extortion purposes, but now political hacktivists and foreign government backed ‘cyber fighters' such as Izz ad-Din al-Qassam are attacking critical infrastructure of the U.S., including financial institutions, utilities, telcos, Internet hosting facilities, and state government," said Lyon. "Although much of this critical infrastructure uses traditional DDoS mitigation solutions, every week brings reports of sites, applications, and services brought down by attacks that are now significantly more sophisticated and 16X larger than just one year ago; clearly the techniques we developed in 2003 don't work for global banks today."

Defense.net was founded in December 2012 by Lyon, who created the DDoS attack mitigation industry a decade ago. The company has been operating in stealth mode to build a DDoS defense network scaled and architected for the protection of today's critical infrastructure. Lyon recruited a team of the top minds in DDoS attack mitigation and built the most advanced technologies to combat today's large scale attacks as well as more sophisticated attacks in the coming years. After hearing from banks and other organizations about the crippling side effects from legacy DDoS attack mitigation, he realized how his Silicon Valley expertise in new applications could help him develop a better DDoS mitigation solution that maintains the quality of new applications.

"The modern Internet is different from what we were defending 10 years ago," said Lyon. "It's not just websites. It's critical financial transactions. It's video, it's mobile applications, it's APIs that integrate systems among institutions. We had to design defenses to protect all those systems from DDoS attacks."

Defense.net's soon-to-be-announced products are architected to defend the businesses and organizations supporting the nation's critical infrastructure against the ever increasing scale and sophistication of modern DDoS attacks while maintaining the highest levels of application performance.

"Even when they successfully stop an attack, existing mitigation solutions create significant side effects from blocked users and fraud alerts to slow page loads, broken links, and stalled or timed out video streams," said Lyon. "Some companies have had to ignore their fraud alerts when DDoS mitigation was turned on because so many of the alerts were artifacts of the mitigation. It's analogous to the fire department responding to a fire — they can extinguish the fire, but in the process they get water all over the place and do some damage on their own. The Defense.net solution will both protect against modern DDoS attacks and preserve the performance of applications and the end-user experience."

In DDoS attacks, perpetrators assemble an army of compromised computers (a botnet) to inundate a website with a volume of requests that overwhelms and crashes the website. Currently, state actors, with deep financial resources at their disposal, have realized the efficiency of DDoS as a weapon of international warfare. At the same time, the ease of access to sophisticated attack tools has advanced to a level where a botnet than can do millions of dollars of damage within minutes can be rented for $7 per hour.

Defense.net was incubated in the Menlo Park office of Bessemer Venture Partners. Defense.net is the firm's 30th cyber security investment. 17 of Bessemer's prior security startups have gone public or been acquired. David Cowan, a partner of Bessemer and the co-founder of VeriSign, joined the Defense.net board at its conception, along with internet visionary Jay Adelson who has pioneered such companies as Equinix, Digg, Revision3, SimpleGeo and Opsmatic.

"Banks, utilities, governments and other organizations face increasing threats from more formidable antagonists wielding a growing arsenal of DDoS weapons," Cowan said. "Existing defenses are falling down on the job and taking down many of their customers when it happens; so we backed Lyon and his all-star DDOS team because they have the vision and unparalleled experience to deliver seamless and scalable business continuity."

The Defense.net "Zero Day Team" includes the best and brightest DDoS mitigation experts and network operators in the world, including veterans of Prolexic, Verisign, BitGravity, Juniper, Box.net and Apple's security team. Defense.net founder and CTO Barrett Lyon's understanding of DDoS stretches back to his teenage years in the 1990's when he operated IRC chat servers - the focal point for the creation of today's DDoS techniques. As the DDoS threat spread to businesses, he went on to pioneer defenses for a variety of companies, including online wagering and one of the largest insurance companies. This led to his pursuit of hackers operating as part of the Russian mob, as chronicled in the best-selling book, Fatal System Error by Joseph Menn. After founding Prolexic Technologies, Lyon founded two successful companies focused on streaming digital content on the web.

To lead Defense.net, Lyon has brought on:
VP of Network Operations Joe Daly: a founding employee of Prolexic Technologies who built and ran their DDoS mitigation network infrastructure
Director of Systems Architecture Dan Murphy: a six year veteran of Prolexic Technologies who created and managed the DDoS mitigation infrastructure which thwarted complicated application layer attacks
CEO Chris Risley: an eight time venture-backed CEO who for the past 20 years has focused on highly-scalable Secure Data Management (SDM) software companies

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