Mirage Isn't Imagining $13M

Security startup lands Series B cash to help fight 'zero-day' attacks. Is Cisco watching?

August 3, 2004

3 Min Read
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Security startup Mirage Networks Inc. sees $13 million on its horizon after its Series B funding closed, indicating that the momentum is growing for protecting data centers from unforeseen virus and worm attacks.

Mirage Networks is one of the firms going after the "zero-day" security market. These are products, which, unlike traditional intrusion and prevention systems, do not rely on a virus signature to identify an attack (see Security Approaches Day Zero and Is Zero Day a Cash Cow?).

Without having the beneficial knowledge of a virus signature (because it hasn't happened yet), a zero-day security product works by first identifying the symptoms of an initial attack. This could be, for example, the case of a server suddenly sending out thousands of emails.

Mirage was founded in 2000, and its flagship product, the Inverted Firewall appliance, was launched last December. Why "Inverted"? Unlike security offerings that protect the perimeter, the product is deployed at the internal network edge, according to Mirage execs.

Mirage officials say that, unlike other products in the same market, the Inverted Firewall does not rely on agents that are installed on specific devices. Instead, the technology works by using a "threat assessment" engine to track unusual network behavior, and an "early warning system" that detects packet activity against the networks unused IP address space.That story was apparently sound enough to land the funding... and it may now be enough to draw the attention of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which is considered a leader in the market. Cisco also purchased a company once run by Mirage's CEO, Toney Jennings. Jennings, a one-time U.S. Air Force Captain and professional race car driver, was President and CEO of intrusion-and-detection vendor WheelGroup, which was acquired by Cisco in a $125 million stock transaction in March 1998.

Mirage was founded by David Settle, the former Convex Computer Corp. executive, and Ron Miller, the former director of

Times N Systems Inc. The third founder is Mark Wilkinson, the former IT director at software company Exterprise.

In addition to Cisco, other leading players in the zero-day security market include Platform Logic Inc. and Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA). Now startups are increasingly looking to get a piece of the action.

Last week, for example, Californian vendor eEye Digital Security launched its new "Blink" product, which works by installing a software agent on devices such as laptops, PCs, and servers (see Is Zero Day a Cash Cow?).

The financial boost received today by Mirage Networks brings the company’s total funding to $21 million. Last year the firm received $8 million in Series A financing. This latest round of funding was led by Trinity Ventures, although existing investors Adams Capital Management and Center Point Venture Partners also participated.Mirage launched its channel program earlier this year and says it plans to use the additional funding to develop its product line and increase its sales and support organizations. Mirage has already racked up a number of customers, including Penn State University and Overland Park, Kansas.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum

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