July 27, 2017 / 10:13 AM / in a month

Cyber security startup Callsign raises $35 million

A man holds an iPhone 6 in a mobile phone shop in Moscow, Russia, September 26, 2014.Maxim Shemetov

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Callsign Inc, a startup that had developed technology to help users access websites more securely, has raised $35 million from investors including Accel, PTB Ventures and NightDragon Security, the firm of former McAfee chief executive David DeWalt.

The company, whose core team is based in London, said on Thursday that it will use the funding to grow its sales operations and expand internationally.

Venture capital firm Allegis Capital also joined the round.

Founded in 2012 Callsign has developed technology that analyzes hundreds of data points to determine whether users are actually who they say they are when logging into websites and applications.

By assessing information such as where the user is connecting from, and how much pressure is applied when swiping on a mobile device, the company says it helps reduces the risk of criminals gaining access with stolen credentials.

The investment comes as companies around the world seek to protect themselves from the rising cyber security threat. Data breaches are expected to cost businesses $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, almost four times the cost of breaches in 2015, according to estimates from Juniper Research.

At the same time businesses are looking to reduce the burden that users face with certain security measures, such as two-factor authentication.

Callsign said its technology adds a level of security on top of passwords, without making the authentication process more cumbersome for users.

"Even if someone has your password it doesn't mean it's you," Zia Hayat, founder and chief executive of Callsign said in an interview. "The system analyzes data on web and mobile sessions to make an important decision on whether the person is who they say they are."

The company has been focusing on the financial sector, which has been among the most targeted by cyber crime. Clients include Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Deutsche Bank AG. The technology can be used by companies both for internal security, enabling authentication of employees, or for client facing applications.

"Almost every major attack that happened in recent years happened with credential stealing," DeWalt, said in an interview. "If we are able to develop technology to assure the user is who they say they are then we can eliminate some of the bigger problems."

DeWalt, also formerly the executive chairman of FireEye, will join the startup's board as vice chairman.

Reporting by Anna Irrera

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