UPDATED 14:56 EST / JUNE 14 2021

SECURITY

Immersive Labs nabs $75M to boost cybersecurity teams’ threat response skills

Immersive Labs Inc., a startup with a platform for training cybersecurity teams to fend off cyberattacks, has raised a $75 million funding round led by Insight Partners after doubling revenues over the last year.

Menlo Ventures contributed as well, along with Citi Ventures and Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Immersive Labs didn’t disclose a valuation in its announcement of the funding round today.

The U.K.- and Boston-based startup provides a cloud platform that enterprises can use to equip their cybersecurity teams with additional threat response skills. The platform includes a large library of interactive breach simulations that enable users to familiarize themselves with common cyberattacks. A cybersecurity team can, for example, learn how to respond to malware in the company’s virtual desktop environment, or simulate a scenario where ransomware deletes important business data.

Immersive Labs pairs the training features with an analytics tool that lets executives measure how well the team tackles simulated threats. According to the startup, this information allows executives to identify areas where their company’s cybersecurity readiness is lacking and prioritize accordingly. For example, if results from breach simulations show that the cybersecurity team struggles to remediate ransomware breaches consistently, the company can focus employee training efforts on that area.

“Everyone from the teams who build software to the CEO now needs to play their part in addressing a pervasive company issue,” said Immersive Labs founder and Chief Executive Officer James Hadley. “The first step to achieving this lies in understanding where capabilities are lacking which, until now, has been impossible.”

Immersive Labs says that its platform has other uses as well. Companies can use it to train cybersecurity professionals not only to block common hacking tactics but also to carry them out. This facilitates so-called ethical hacking, a practice wherein a company launches simulated hacking attempts against its own systems to identify weak points that might be difficult to spot with other methods.

For software developers, Immersive Labs’ platform offers virtual labs they can use to learn ways of writing more secure code. The platform also includes training content for non-technical employees that the startup says helps companies equip their workforces with essential cybersecurity skills.

In addition to helping organizations boost staffers’ cybersecurity know-how, Immersive Labs says, its simulated breach scenarios provide an opportunity to practice cyberattack response procedures. That can theoretically increase the effectiveness with which a firm can respond to real hacking attempts.

Immersive Labs will direct a big portion of its new funding toward product development. One of the main items on the startup’s agenda is adding more features for identifying gaps in a company’s cybersecurity know-how. “This investment will allow us to add new analytical capabilities and content to provide a more detailed picture of skills across the growing breadth and depth of cyber exposure facing organizations,” Hadley said.

The startup plans to triple its headcount to more than 600 employees over the next two years. The extra personnel will help Immersive Labs build the new features on its development checklist, as well as support its efforts to establish a bigger international presence.

One of the factors likely behind Immersive Labs’ rapid growth is the continued industrywide shortage of cybersecurity professionals. A platform that makes it possible to equip a company’s existing cybersecurity staff with more threat response skills can, in theory, reduce the need to hire additional staff and thereby simplify hiring.

The cybersecurity skills shortage is also generating more demand for other types of solutions, including managed network protection services. Those services allow a company to offload key breach prevention responsibilities from its in-house technical staff to an external firm. One of the biggest names in that market, startup Arctic Wolf Networks Inc., raised $200 million at a $1.3 billion valuation late last year after seeing revenues triple over the preceding 12 months.  

Image: Immersive Labs

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