Defense.net launches with $9.5M to stop big DDoS attacks

Barrett Lyon

Security startup Defense.net poked its head out of stealth early Tuesday, revealing a respected co-founder, substantial early funding and an industry target.

Barrett Lyon — founder of distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) mitigation company Prolexic, co-founder of content-delivery network BitGravity and a main character in Joseph Menn’s 2010 cybersecurity thriller “Fatal System Error” — founded the startup in December and has been building a network that can absorb a large, malicious DDoS attack while sending the good traffic to its intended destination.

Defense.net has been in incubation at Bessemer Venture Partners, which is leading the startup’s $9.5 million Series A funding round. The main office is in Belmont, Calif., and there are now 15 employees.

Defense.net is not saying much more than that. Lyon (pictured) and CEO Chris Risley declined to answer questions about the product, its customers, its revenue and so on. But at least it’s clear the startup has technical know-how, business experience (Prolexic and BitGravity both got sold) and solid backing. Defense.net is the 30th security company Bessemer has invested in, according to a statement.

And we know the market Defense.net wants to attack. It will fight off big, hard DDoS attacks for sizable companies. Lyon’s old company Prolexic still has business here. So do Neustar and VeriSign. CloudFlare can do similar things, but Defense.net won’t compete with it, Lyon said.

The company is not going to use Infrastructure as a Service as a sort of net for attacks to be shot into; instead, gear at multiple colocation facilities will do the job, Risley said. And it’s already being used to support some customers, he said, taking one night to get the system running after a particular attack started hitting one customer. “We took the traffic instead of them,” he said. “We gave them the good traffic, so they could be back in business.”

It will be interesting to see what the startup has come up with to stop DDoS attacks in the current age. Other companies copied Prolexic’s approach, Lyon said, and it’s possible the Defense.net style will become a model for others to follow, too.

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