Ann Arbor-Based Cybersecurity Company Censys Raises $2.6 Million

By Amit Chowdhry ● Nov 28, 2018

Censys, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based cybersecurity startup that helps companies find where data may be exposed, announced that it has raised $2.6 million in seed round of funding led by GV (formerly known as Google Ventures), Greylock Partners, and several angel investors.

The foundational technology that powers Censys was designed by researchers at the University of Michigan. This team is also known for creating the ZMap Scanner, which helped popularize Internet-wide scanning in 2013. The original goal of these researchers was to measure if Internet security was improving.

Censys will be using the funding to collect more data and provide additional actionable insights for customers. Plus the company is planning to make key hires for its engineering and product teams.

What Censys does is provide businesses with a global perspective of their servers so that they are able to understand the exposure and assess security risk. And the company has a unique approach for gathering and enriching Internet data and making it available through a custom search engine. This tool is used by customers for finding actionable visibility data that they need without dealing with the noise from other Internet scanners.

“Censys provides information security practitioners with critical data-driven insights to prevent cybersecurity threats and better understand network attack surfaces,” said GV General Partner Karim Faris in a statement. “Driven by a highly technical founding team with a deep security expertise, Censys creates a fuller picture of security risk for researchers, enterprises, and government customers.”

One of the biggest challenges in cybersecurity is the lack of visibility, which compounds as more business data is moved to the cloud and outside traditional corporate networks. This increases the risk of unintentionally exposing customer details, business data, financial assets.

“Prior to moving to the cloud, business data could be tucked safely within a managed, corporate network,” added Greylock partner Asheem Chandna. “The journey to the cloud introduces new security challenges and risk. Censys provides enterprises moving to hybrid IT and cloud with a map of their external attack surface, allowing IT teams to fully comprehend and manage their security risk and exposure.”

Censys has more than 60 customers, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FireEye, Google, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and Swiss Armed Forces. These customers have been using Censys to monitor and find corporate infrastructure along with tracking adversaries to prevent phishing attacks and brand impersonation.

The team behind Censys have a strong track record in the cybersecurity space. Censys CEO Brian Kelly led product teams at Duo Security (acquired by Cisco), TrustBearer Labs (acquired by Symantec), and Nutshell. David Corcoran, the COO of Censys, was CEO and founder of TrustBearer Labs. Zakir Durumeric, the chief technologist at Censys, is one of the creators of Zmap and Censys. David Adrian, a principal engineer at Censys, was the lead developer of the Censys research project as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan. J. Alex Halderman, the chief scientist at Censys, is a professor of computer science at Michigan and helped create ZMap and he co-founded Let’s Encrypt.

Dug Song, the co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Duo Security, is an advisor and investor in Censys. HD Moore, the founder of Metasploit, is also an investor and advisor in Censys.