Behind Atlanta’s Growth as a Cybersecurity Hub

The FBI can thank an Atlanta-based startup for helping it stay safe earlier this year. 

When hackers successfully got into the FBI servers and sent malicious emails that looked like they came from employees in November, it was cybersecurity company IRONSCALES that detected the attack and put up a spam banner on emails coming from the compromised FBI accounts. 

This isn’t the first high-profile phishing attempt IRONSCALES has detected. Earlier this year, the platform also caught a phishing attempt on the high-profile MacKenzie Bezos-Scott Foundation

The email security startup continuously monitors inboxes against an ever-growing number of phishing threats. As CEO Eyal Benishti explained to Hypepotamus, “the damage that was created by this hack wasn’t big, but you can look at it as a proof of concept…that emails can be sent from an FBI server, looking like an FBI email…and it’s pretty easy to do.” 

IRONSCALES’ threat detection has put the team on the map internationally. It has also showcased just how much of a cybersecurity powerhouse the Metro Atlanta area has grown to be over the last few years. 


The State of Atlanta’s Cybersecurity

IRONSCALES initially started in Israel but moved to Atlanta to take advantage of the city’s talent pool. It is rounding out 2021 with a $64 million Series C round from Boston-based growth equity firm PSG, K1 Investment Management, and Jump Capital.

This adds to an impressive list of cybersecurity funding headlines the city has brought in over the last twelve months. Compliance software “unicorn” OneTrust — now valued at over $5 million — ended 2020 with a $300 million Series C round, and raised an additional $210 million in 2021 from Softbank Vision Fund

DefenseStorm, a rapidly-growing Alpharetta startup working with banks in the cloud-based cybersecurity, cyber compliance, and cyber fraud space, has scaled quickly over the last year as well, including a $12 million Series B in November 2020 and a $5 million venture round this November.

Steve Soukup, CEO of DefenseStorm, told Hypepotamus that the team has increased employee count by 35% over the course of 2021, hiring a new CFO and other key roles across the organization. 

While Atlanta may be best known for turning out FinTech and SaaS success stories, cyber has long been in the city’s roots. Three of the earlier “success stories,” SecureWorks, AirWatch, and Internet Security Systems (ISS), were built and acquired in the security space, and Georgia Tech is consistently ranked as one of the top cybersecurity schools in the country.

Atlanta is home to over 100 companies in the cybersecurity space, according to available Crunchbase data. Many of those sit at the intersection of security for FinTech or e-commerce solutions.  

That growing talent pool has no doubt helped churn out several cyber-related startups that are worth keeping an eye on moving into 2021. These include Curricula, a team making office security training fun as well as educational, Apptega, Bluefin, and Pindrop.


Photo by ibuki Tsubo on Unsplash