Online businesses are at risk from bad bot activity, especially now more than in the past. According to according to a survey by Imperva, 42.3% of internet traffic in 2021 was not human, but instead bots performing automated routines with malicious intent.
Given the damage bots can do, such as stealing content and inventory, degrading website and app performance, taking over accounts and committing payment fraud, it’s hardly surprising that vendors using bot-fighting technology sell, attract large investments. Case in point: DataDome, a provider of bot protection services for mobile apps, websites and APIs, raised $42 million in a Series C round led by InfraVia Growth with participation from Elephant and ISAI.
That is an impressively high figure given the current macroeconomic environment. Funding for cybersecurity startups is down by a third in 2022, from $22.8 billion in 2021 to $15.3 billion last year. according to to Crunchbase data. Beyond the cybersecurity industry, the fallout from the Silicon Valley Bank collapse continues to impact startups’ ability to secure funding.
DataDome co-founder and CEO Benjamin Fabre says proceeds from the Series C will be used to support the company’s commercial rollout and R&D efforts.
“This round brings our total amount to $82 million,” Fabre told australiabusinessblog.com in an email interview. “We are fortunate to have shown significant growth with very responsible cash efficiency. Honestly, we weren’t looking to fundraise at this point. But InfraVia shares our vision of countering bots as a basis for online fraud prevention, which resulted in a compelling case.”
Fabre founded DataDome in 2015 with long-time business partner Fabien Grenier after the pair noticed that most companies were unable to detect and block bots. They sought to build a platform that could prevent bot-based threats, but in a unique way: one that eschewed static machine learning rules that evaluate each request made to a website, mobile app, or API.
Of course, DataDome is not the only company doing this. There’s anti-bot startup Kasada, which helps fight online bots using its proprietary anti-bot platform Polyform. ThreatX develops bot defense technology for APIs and web apps, while PerimeterX uses machine learning to help understand normal behavior and stop anomalous bot-driven behavior in an automated way.
So what makes DataDome different? Well, the company claims to be one of the few that reanalyzes every traffic request, in real time, using techniques such as vulnerability scanning rules, device fingerprinting, and behavioral analysis. The platform works with existing applications and offers features such as a CAPTCHA to thwart bots. And it scales and processes more than 3 trillion data signals every day.
“Think of recent headlines, such as the Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster debacleFabre said. “Our customers are very clear about the pain points they experience as a result… Our approach is cross-cutting, breaking down those silos mentioned earlier. In that respect, we think like an attacker and judge each request on its intent.”
On the AI and machine learning side, DataDome makes use of various AI models to try to detect malicious bots. Once something abnormal is detected, DataDome uses a range of techniques, including data mining, to determine what caused the change.
Once detected, the detection signals are stored in a database, where they can be used to improve the quality of the detection and understand what happened during an attack or train machine learning models.
In recent months, DataDome’s focus has been on rolling out its CAPTCHA product, according to Fabre, as well as new AI models to block bot threats from CAPTCHA-solving bots and CAPTCHA farms, plus improved analytics and reporting tools. Customers appear to be satisfied with the process; turnover doubled from October 2021.
“This is still a strong growing market,” says Fabre. “In our experience, about 40% of new customers upgrade from a web application firewall or the basic protection of a content delivery network (CDN), 30% move from bot specialists, and 30% evolve from an in-house solution. In the first case, many customers choose us to extend the out-of-the-box bot management features offered by CDNs such as Cloudflare and Akamai.”
DataDome claims to have more than 300 customers in industries such as e-commerce, media, travel, ticketing, healthcare and the public sector. For those brands, the platform protects more than 400,000 domains for more than 4,800 active users across the globe — from North America to Western Europe, India and Australia, according to Fabre.
“The pandemic caused a massive shift to everything online, which in turn expanded the automated threat landscape,” added Fabre. “Before, during and after the height of COVID, our solution is proving essential for digital businesses.”