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NelsonG

GreyNoise announces $4.8M seed investment to filter harmless security alerts

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Security professionals are constantly dealing with an onslaught of information as their various tools trigger alerts, some of which require their attention and some which don’t. Unfortunately, it requires addressing the alert to find that out. GreyNoise wants to help by filtering out benign security alerts, leaving security pros to deal with the ones that matter.

Today, the company announced a $4.8 million seed investment led by CRV with participation from Paladin Capital Group and several individual tech executive investors.

“Usually about 20% of the alerts that you’re looking at [don’t require your attention]. And those alerts are generated by both good guys and bad guys who are opportunistically scanning and crawling and probing and attacking every single device all around the internet,” GreyNoise founder Andrew Morris told TechCrunch.

He adds, “It creates this background noise problem, so we basically collect all of that data from all of those people who are scanning and crawling everybody on the entire internet, analyze it and we filter it out from what our customers see. So what they end up with is about 20%, fewer alerts.”

Surprisingly, the company is not using machine learning to do this (although adding machine learning elements is on the roadmap). Instead, Morris says it involves a lot of automated analysis of sensor data.

“We have a giant network of collector sensors that are sitting in all these different data centers all around the internet and hundreds of data centers around the internet. And we’re just applying a bunch of rules to the traffic that they all see to end up with the output of our core product,” he said.

As the company moves forward with this new funding, he says primarily he wants to get away from this approach and get more data from customers in exchange for discounts on their subscription costs.

“Moving forward, it’s cost prohibitive for us to collect all of the data that we want firsthand. So we’re going to have to start basically building products that are enabling our users to collect data for us. And that’s something that we’re going to be building out using this funding,” Morris said.

In addition, they will be partnering with other key vendors like ISPs and data center owners to help them collect additional data.

Interestingly, this was an entirely COVID transaction with CRV’s Reid Christian never meeting Morris in person, conducting the entire process over Zoom. “A sign of the times, Andrew and I have never met in person and likely won’t for quite some time. We were connected in the midst of quarantine, both of us holed up in our apartments (DC and SF, respectively) where we sat on countless Zoom calls, mostly getting to know each other and discussing the opportunity ahead of GreyNoise,” Christian wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.

The startup has 7 employees to this point. Morris said that he has plans to hire 10 people in the next year with an emphasis on sales, marketing and engineering. As he hires more people, he says it’s imperative to be thinking about diversity and inclusion in his hiring in the early stages of the company.

“The best way to do this is to hire as diverse as humanly possible from the very beginning, because it’s significantly harder to make a company more diverse after the fact than it is to think about inclusion and diversity from the very beginning. And so that’s how we’ve been thinking about everything right now with every hire that we’re doing,” he said. How that will work as he builds out the company is still something he is considering and he plans work with D&I experts to help flesh out a plan.

Morris founded the company in the Washington, D.C. area in 2017, came to market in 2018 with the first version of the product and today has 40 customers.

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