Social SafeGuard scores $11M to sell alerts for brand-damaging fakes

Social SafeGuard, a 2014-founded U.S. startup which sells security services to enterprises aimed at mitigating a range of digital risks that lie outside the corporate firewall, has closed an $11 million Series B funding round, from AllegisCyber and NightDragon Security.

It’s hoping to ride the surge in awareness around social media fakery — putting the new funding towards sales and marketing, plus some product dev.

“As one of the few dedicated cybersecurity venture firms, we know how big this challenge has become for today’s security executives,” said Spencer Tall, MD of AllegisCyber, in a supporting statement. Tall is joining the Social SafeGuard board.

“This is no longer a fringe need that can be ignored or deferred. Digital risk protection should be on the shortlist of corporate security priorities for the next decade,” he adds.

Social SafeGuard’s SaaS platform is designed to alert customers to risks that might cause damage to a business or brand’s reputation — such as brand impersonation, compliance issues or even the spread of fake news — as well as more pure-play security threats, such as social phishing, malware, spam and fake accounts.

Its platform uses machine learning and a customized policy engine to offer real-time monitoring of 50 digital and social channels (integrating via an API hub) — including social media platforms, mobile messaging apps, IM tools like Slack, unified comms platforms (Skype for business etc), clouds apps like Office365, blogs and news sites, and the dark web.

The types of threats the platform is trained to look out for include malicious message content, inappropriate images, malicious links, account takeover attempts and brand impersonation.

“Digital risks to any enterprise are twofold: internal or external — from employees communicating in non-compliant ways that expose a business to regulatory danger to more typical cyber threats like phishing, malware, account hacks or brand impersonation. Social SafeGuard helps mitigate all of these new digital risks by giving companies the tools to detect threats and defend against them, so they can adopt new technologies without fear,” says founder and CEO Jim Zuffoletti.

As well as threat detection and real-time notification, the platform includes built in take-down requests and follow-through — “to make threat management as responsive as possible”, as he puts it.

Social SafeGuard’s software also does risk scoring to aid the rapid triage of potential threats, and uses AI to try to anticipate “potential attacks and identify known bad actors” — so it’s responding to a wider security industry shift from purely defensive, reactive actions towards pro-active detection and response.

On the compliance front, the platform includes a governance and customizable policy engine that enterprises can use to monitor employee and partner communications for regulatory violations.

“For compliance-focused clients, messages are archived with automated audit trails that provide transparency and clarity,” notes Zuffoletti.

The platform has around 50 customers at this stage. Zuffoletti says its biggest customers are in the financial services and life sciences sectors — but says high tech is its fastest-growing sector.

Examples of the kinds of attacks its tools have been used to prevent include account takeovers, malware attacks, financial regulations violations, and FCPA and HIPAA violations.

“In one recent example, we were able to perform a forensic analysis of an online securities fraud scheme, which also posed brand reputation issues for one of our clients,” he adds. “Our platform is adaptable to evolving hybrid threats, too.”

On the competitive front, Zuffoletti namechecks the likes of Proofpoint and RiskIQ.

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