In-depth

What is Darktrace?

Meet one of the most innovative companies you’ve never heard of

Digital padlock hovering over a screen

In the movies, saving the world from secret, malicious threats used to be the job of James Bond. But in our digitised world the threat of cyber attacks is very real. Our real life heroes are cyber intelligence experts and mathematical boffins from Cambridge University - otherwise known as Darktrace, which admittedly does sound more like a Bond villain.

These mathematicians and cyber operations experts formed Darktrace in Cambridge in 2013 and use artificial intelligence system to combat cyber attacks.

While most people have never heard of it, Darktrace has grown to become a global entity and one of the most innovative enterprise cybersecurity firms around.

It has hubs in Cambridge and San Francisco and its services are deployed by a wide range of high profile companies around the world.

Here we break down everything you need to know about Darktrace.

Company overview

Darktrace was founded by a group of Cambridge University mathematicians and machine learning specialists, along with intelligence experts from MI5 and GCHQ, in 2013.

Over the intervening four years, it has increased its global headcount to 500 and has a physical presence in 11 countries, spread across the North America, APAC and EMEA regions.

It's also won a number of accolades, including the 2016 Best Security Company of the Year award at the Info Security Global Excellence Awards.

Darktrace isn't publicly listed, but since its founding has attracted $175 million of investment from big names like Softbank, Samsung and Insight Venture Partners.

What does Darktrace make?

Fundamentally, Darktrace is a cyber security vendor. What sets it apart, however, is its innovative use of AI or, more specifically, machine learning.

At the core of all its products is Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System, an unsupervised machine learning technology and probabilistic mathematics. What this means in practice is that the software learns from the experience of analysing vast amounts of data by itself, without human intervention, and can adapt to a business's changing needs. It can also use probabilistic mathematics to determine how likely an attack is.

Darktrace's Antigena product takes this a step further, releasing 'antigens' in the same way the immune system in a living organism does to slow and repel the attack.

The organisation has also added specialised products focused specifically on cloud, primary defence (such as security information and event management, or SIEM), virtualised environments and industrial control systems.

In short, Darktrace is a company focused solely on the enterprise, with apparently no intention of heading into the consumer space.

Notable customers

The company has a stellar reputation and a roster of high profile companies from myriad sectors, including banks such as TSB and Metro, charities like the Church of England, car company Peugeot and Virgin Trains. Darktrace services have even been deployed by the Scottish government and the City of Las Vegas, as well as Leicester City Football Club.

However, these are just the publicly-named customers. As with any security firm, there are likely to be many more that have not been publicly disclosed.

Main image credit: Bigstock

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