UK Government Cyber Accelerator Announces Support for Seven Startups

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The UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) yesterday announced the selection of the first seven cyber security startups for its GCHQ Cyber Accelerator, powered by the startup accelerator program Wayra UK.

The GCHQ Cyber Accelerator, a partnership between GCHQ, the UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and Wayra UK, is part of the UK government's new Cheltenham Cyber Innovation Center. A second cyber innovation center will open in London later this year, funded by up to £50 million from the DCMS over the next five years.

The seven companies selected will now begin a three-month development program, during which key benefits will include mentoring, contact with an investor network, office space within the Cyber Accelerator, and access to GCHQ personnel.

"I congratulate all the companies selected to join the new accelerator facility, which is now open for business," UK Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock MP said in a statement. "This is an important step in delivering our National Cyber Security Strategy, and supported by [a] £1.9 billion transformative investment in cyber security."

The seven companies selected are as follows:

- CounterCraft protects large organizations with a cyber security deception platform designed to fool adversaries with decoy computers, false data and fake identities.

Last July, the company announced €1 million in funding from Adara Ventures, Orza Investments and Telefonica Open Future. "Our proprietary technology covers a wide range of different assets that are planned to mislead adversaries and cause them to take specific actions to aid computer security defense and advanced threat detection," company CEO and founder David Barroso said at the time. "We propose something new: don't stop attacks. Let us provide a controlled environment for attacks to take place. If not, your adversaries will just come back when you clean up their intrusion."

- CyberOwl provides an early warning system for cyber attacks, incorporating advanced security analytics and heuristic methods.

The company, a joint venture between Coventry University and Crossword Cybersecurity Plc, received seed funding last June from Mercia Fund Management. "We are pleased to provide CyberOwl with its first funding," Mercia investment manager Dr. Brijesh Roy said at the time. "The company has already received technical validation for its product and, with the support and expertise provided by Crossword Cybersecurity and Coventry University, we are confident that this software will be adopted on an international scale as networks continue to diversify and grow."

- Cyber Smart automates implementation, certification and compliance with cyber security standards.

"We bite-size Cyber Essentials into the five core components required to achieve certification," the company's website explains. "Within each of these, we identify your current level of compliance with simple, plain English questions. We analyze your responses against Cyber Essentials and apply our recommendation engine to provide you with a simple action plan."

- Futurescaper offers a collective intelligence platform that provides data visualizations that help make sense of complex, uncertain or volatile issues.

Founded in 2011, the company announced version 4 of its software in January 2016. "In this latest version 4, we've come far enough in usability that we're starting to let people use it with Futurescaper providing technical support only," the company stated at the time. "It's early days, but the results from our consulting partners have been promising so far -- and we're really excited to make this happen."

- Spherical Defence is a banking API intrusion detection system that uses deep learning to detect hacking attempts by establishing a baseline of normal communication.

"Today, hacks are highly targeted and lead to server crashes and corruption, implying massive losses for technology companies," company co-founder Dishant Shah told The Economic Times last February.

- StatusToday provides an AI-powered intelligence platform to understand human behavior in the workplace, boosting security against insider attacks and detecting mistakes.

"The core research within StatusToday emerges from the team's in-depth understanding of human behavior, organizational psychology and artificial intelligence," company CEO Ankur Modi wrote in a recent blog post. "Being able to identify and detect changes in basic human behavior patterns to signal account compromise, human error, rogue threats or external attacks allows StatusToday to stay ahead of new types of cyber attacks."

- Verimuchme offers a digital wallet and exchange platform to secure, verify and re-use personal information, using ID-based crypto-technology to link individuals and enterprises to personal infomration that can be shared digitally over and over again

"The opening of the GCHQ Cyber Accelerator is a significant step forward for the UK's ambitions to be a global hub for cyber talent," Wayra UK director Gary Stewart said in a statement. "By bringing together GCHQ's world-class security expertise and pairing it with Wayra's track record in accelerating businesses, we will give entrepreneurs with exceptional cyber security ideas the opportunity to develop them in the best possible environment."

"This accelerator could have a huge impact on the global cyber security sector, generating the next generation of systems that will make everyone's online experience safer and more secure," Stewart added.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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