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Summary:

Cyberattacks through websites and networks have gotten loads of attention lately, but telephone hacking is sleeping giant. Andreessen Horowitz and other funds are backing Pindrop Security to solve the problem.

Enterprises have lots of options when it comes to website and network security. But take a minute to ponder the voice-security space — you know, the whole bit about detecting and defending against fraudsters who use telephones to make their mayhem. No single company comes to mind as the champion in this area, but Pindrop Security is looking to clinch that title.

The Atlanta-based startup has developed technology that rapidly identifies the person calling on the phone, the type of phone used and the location where the call originates and other qualities. It can also check calls against the company’s growing database of more than a million phone numbers and more than 40,000 unique “fingerprints” used in cases of phone fraud.

On Wednesday, the company announced $11 million in an Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Citi Ventures, with contributions from Redpoint Ventures, Felicis Ventures and Webb Investment Network. To date Pindrop has now secured a total of $12 million in venture funding.

Based on a total of 147 variables, Pindrop determines how risky a call might be on a scale of 0 to 100 so call center and contact center employees can act accordingly. A customer can use that information to determine who should take the call. For example, a call with a risk code of 90 might well get routed to a call center’s fraud-investigation team.

But static ratings aren’t good enough. It’s critical to improve Pindrop’s machine-learning algorithms, partly by asking people to tell if calls that the system identified as fraudulent turns out to be actually fraudulent.

Since its establishment in 2011, Pindrop has signed some big customers, including two major banks and a popular online brokerage, said Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO and co-founder.

Balasubramaniyan, right, with Paul Judge, Pindrop's executive chairman. Source: Pindrop Security

Balasubramaniyan, right, with Paul Judge, Pindrop’s executive chairman. Source: Pindrop Security

Meanwhile, the specter of trouble from the telephone has heightened lately with developments such as Wired writer Mat Honan’s password disaster to the rise of to swatting prank calls.

Andreessen partner Scott Weiss joins the board. Weiss has security cred, as he co-founded enterprise security company IronPort Systems before Cisco bought it and Weiss held security leadership positions for the networking giant.

In a post scheduled to run Wednesday on his blog, Weiss noted that Pindrop’s interest in the “voice fraud” area was one reason he’s eager to work with Pindrop. “Voice is becoming an even more attractive alternative for fraudsters as the online channel is maturing and becoming more secure,” Weiss wrote.

While the term voice-fraud does have an unusual ring to it, security startups in general have been cashing in on heavy investor interest in recent months, partly driven by reports of cyberattacks. Pindrop might have a niche on its hand, but from a broad perspective it ought to be viewed as yet another beneficiary of the rising IT-security wave.

Feature image courtesy of Flickr user dno1967b.

  1. subash mandanapu Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    http://www.victrio.com/ does similar thing. discovered at RSA innovation sandbox.

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