Startup Spotlight: Threat Detection Specialist ThetaRay


Detecting new and unknown threats is one of the most difficult tasks for information security professionals. Mathematicians Amir Averbuch and Ronald Coifman spent 10 years developing a method of detection based on analyzing large volumes of data. The Big Data technology that resulted from their research will soon become available thanks to ThetaRay, a startup founded in 2013 to bring the product to market.

"This was a mathematical problem that was considered unsolvable, but these two mathematicians proved it was possible," explained Mark Gazit, the CEO who was brought in to get ThetaRay off the ground. "They have developed algorithms and have incorporated them into a product which successfully identifies unknown threats."

The product produces false positives two orders of magnitude less frequently than other detection products, he said.

ThetaRayLogoIn its first iteration, the product is designed as a detection tool only, said Gazit, although he expects the product will evolve into a more general protection tool in the future. "We have started as a detection company as the average zero-day threat detection time is about eight months," he said, adding that ThetaRay can reduce this detection time to a matter of minutes.

Gazit is a serial startup manager who was introduced to the company by Jerusalem Venture Partners, one of the startup's backers. "I believe that founders who are creative are not necessarily the best managers, so I was brought in at the inception as a founding CEO," he said.

ThetaRay's product targets large organizations with large amounts of data in industry verticals that include power generation and critical infrastructure, transport and finance. Healthcare and manufacturing will also be included in the near future. Eventually the company plans to offer the technology to the more general enterprise market. ThetaRay's technology is currently being installed at a small group of selected customers including General Electric (GE), which is also a first round investor in the company.

It is offered as an appliance or a virtual appliance. Due to the often sensitive nature of the data it analyzes, there is little demand for a public cloud-based service offering, Gazit said, although he foresees that it will be run in private clouds.

ThetaRay is in the process of moving its headquarters to the United States, and general availability for the product is planned for October 2014.

The company employs 20 people, and in the short term it plans to market its product directly to customers. Longer term, it expects to establish channel partnerships with GE and consultants including PwC and Deloitte.

Fast Facts about ThetaRay

Founded: 2013

Co-founders: Professors Amir Averbuch and Ronald Coifman

CEO: Mark Gazit

HQ: Tel Aviv, Israel

Funding: Recently received $10 million in a series B round, with investors including General Electric (GE), Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and Poalim Capital Markets

Customers: GE and several other leading global companies

Product: Threat detection that requires no rules, heuristics or signatures. It uncovers zero-day attacks, hidden APTs, operational faults, fraud and other threats by simultaneously and instantaneously analyzing all security and operational data sources

Paul Rubens has been covering enterprise technology for over 20 years. In that time he has written for leading UK and international publications including The Economist, The Times, Financial Times, the BBC, Computing and ServerWatch.