Former tech adviser to Bill Gates raises $2M for cybersecurity startup that discourages hackers

Cybersecurity company Polyverse has raised $2 million in a new round of funding to continue building out its “moving target defense” platform.

What is moving target defense, you ask? Polyverse CEO Alex Gounares, who previously served as CTO of AOL, corporate vice president at Microsoft and technology advisor to Bill Gates, explains it well. It can be related to, of all things, zombie apocalypse. The reason humanity has hung on for so long, he says, and hasn’t fallen to a super disease or a zombie apocalypse is due to the diversity of genetics. Something that affects one person’s immune system, might not hurt someone else.

Computers don’t have the same diversity as the human genome. Sure, there are a few different operating systems, and it could take a long time to find a wormhole in Windows or Linux. But it’s worth the time and effort for hackers because once they get in they have access to millions of computers.

“If you’re the good guys, if you are standing still and running the same software that the attackers have, you are in trouble, and you are going to get hacked eventually,” Gounares said. Moving target defense is this idea of don’t stand still, and don’t use the same software.”

The concept of moving target defense uses technology to scramble and diversify data and store it in an array of different containers, instead of keeping millions of records in a few databases. This makes it harder for hackers to get the full scope of data, and it puts them in a race against time as the technology — which integrates with existing hardware and software systems — self heals and moves data around, creating new containers in a method that’s similar to wiping a hard disk. It makes attacks prohibitively expensive for hackers, and would, in theory, cause them to turn their attention elsewhere.

Gounares said the idea of moving target defense has been around for decades, but the technology had yet to catch up.

Gounares said the latest round brings the two-and-a-half-year-old company to $5 million in total funding. It raised $2 million last year, and $1 million in 2015.

Polyverse is based in Kirkland, Wash., and has more than 20 employees. Prior to starting Polyverse, Gounares was CEO of Concurix Corporation, which he sold to San Mateo, Calif.-based Strongloop in a deal of undisclosed size.

Due to the security focus of the business, Gounares declined to talk much about the company’s customer base, but he did say it was about half federal government agencies and half commercial companies.


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