What About Shape Security Has Google So Excited?

By July 6, 2012

Image: Shape Security

Low-key network defense startup Shape Security is building significant buzz in a knowing corner of the tech community, and seems to have claimed Google, a force to be reckoned with in the search, social and mobile markets, as an early ally.

Google Ventures jumped aboard a Series A funding round this week, joining notables Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers — as well as TomorrowVentures, which happens to be run by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt.

At the same time, Shape Security acquired prominent ex-Googler Shuman Ghosemajumder, who will direct marketing, business development and strategy at the web security outfit. At Google, Ghosemajumder headed  global product management for click fraud protection, where he reportedly picked up the informal title “click-fraud czar.”

But it’s not clear exactly what it is about the company’s offerings, which are still under wraps, that has Google power players so excited. The company brags that their “military-grade technology shifts costs from defenders to attackers, forcing hackers to spend more and more to achieve less and less.”

“Shape is developing a new class of web security products to dramatically alter the economics of web hacking,” reads the Shape web site. “Because Shape’s technology doesn’t rely on past attack signatures, it can uniquely protect against zero-day and other advanced threats.”

Given the interest and monetary support the project has already seen, it seems likely that the Google elite are privy to more information than that about what Shape has in store.

Hacking has become a hot-button political and media issue following waves of exploits by hobbyist hacktivists associated with online collectives like Anonymous, as well as international, government-sponsored hacks that could become early salvos in cyberwarfare.

At the same time, experts say that many users, and administrators in the enterprise world, are woefully unprepared to deal with malware and online threats — even while it’s not clear how strong traditional anti-malware options are, especially on mobile platforms.

The established security industry is ripe for a newcomer, as well. In an embarrassing episode in December, amateur hackers stole and published a cache of internal emails from security firm Stratfor.

Even Google was indirectly the target of a recent trojan that made a modest sum off an advertising exploit.

Correction: An earlier version of this article asserted that Ghosemajumder headed mobile product management at Google. The actual manager of that project was Sumit Agarwal, who also now works with Shape Security.