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Jericho Security Uses AI to Fight AI in New Frontier of Cybersecurity

Aug. 4, 2023, Repost from VentureBeat - Cybersecurity startup Jericho Security announced today it has raised $3 million in pre-seed funding to build solutions using artificial intelligence (AI) to combat increasingly sophisticated phishing attacks generated by AI systems.

The funding round was led by venture capital firm Era and includes participation from Lux Capital, FoundersX Ventures, MetaLabs, Alcove, Textbook, Alumni Venture Group, Thorntree and several individual investors.

Jericho Security’s approach marks a new frontier for cybersecurity, using machine-learning capabilities to essentially “fight AI with AI.” Jericho pits an AI red team against an AI blue team in simulations to uncover vulnerabilities and develop more robust defenses.

Sage Wohns, cofounder and CEO of Jericho Security, told VentureBeat that he was inspired to start the company after hearing a Stanford professor mention the potential dangers of generative AI phishing attacks.

“[The professor] said it off-handedly,” Wohns explained. “He said, ‘What happens when a large language model has retention learning, and is trying to attack you, learn from its attacks and can attack you ad infinitum?’ And I was just like,’ Wait, are you just gonna say that and not go back to your lecture topic? You just dropped the bomb on all of us.’”

AI red team vs. AI blue team

Wohns says his vision for the future is to create an AI red team and an AI blue team that can learn from each other and improve their performances. The AI red team would be responsible for generating realistic and personalized phishing attacks that can test the security posture of clients and employees. The AI blue team would be responsible for detecting and preventing these attacks using advanced language processing, custom privately hosted language models and brokered data.

“By pitting these two teams against each other, we can create a feedback loop that can help us adapt to the changing landscape of AI and stay ahead of the curve,” he said.

In the world of cybersecurity, this approach represents a major shift in the industry landscape. It hints at a future where cyberwarfare is defined by AI models trading off with each other, constantly evolving and learning from each interaction.

Wohns emphasized the importance of focusing on existing threats rather than hypothetical future ones. “It’s about diligent focus and not being distracted by hypothetical futures, and doing areas that we know are existing threats and focusing on those first,” he said.

Persistent threat of phishing attacks

Wohns also said that he saw a huge market opportunity for his solution, as current cybersecurity solutions are becoming obsolete due to gen AI. He cited KnowBe4, a leading provider of security awareness training and simulated phishing attacks, as an example of a company that is facing technical obsolescence because of gen AI.

“They are an incredible company and business,” he said. “But they’re facing technical obsolescence because of generative AI. They’ve been around for 10 years; they’ve exited now three times. And it’s a phenomenal business because people have to have solutions. They have to buy it.”

Wohns also shared some examples of generative phishing attacks that he had seen or heard of, such as fake invoices from Costco or Best Buy, fake bank account updates from leaked data sources and fake VC offers for startups. “That’s why we have a very low price point ($3 per user per month), because I want to get this out to the world, so people are aware of these threats.”

Founding team of veterans

Jericho Security is the result of decades of collective observation of the evolution of cybersecurity threats by its founders.

Wohns is a veteran AI technologist and former CEO of Agolo, a natural language processing (NLP) company. Tim Hwang is the cofounder and CEO of FiscalNote, a government relations management platform. Dan Chyan is a cybersecurity expert and founding partner of PKC Security, a cybersecurity consulting firm.

The funding from the pre-seed round will be used to expand Jericho Security’s product offerings, grow its team and scale its operations globally.

This Cybersecurity Startup Uses AI To Counter Emerging Threats

by Johan Moreno

New York-based Jericho Security recently announced a $3 million pre-seed funding round, led by venture firm Era. The startup aims to leverage AI to combat increasingly sophisticated phishing attacks resulting from advances in generative AI technology. The fresh funding comes as new AI models enable highly personalized and adaptable social engineering scams.

These attacks evade legacy phishing defenses that rely on static rules and outdated training. Jericho Security employs natural language processing and custom language models to simulate realistic and evolving phishing threats.

The goal is to train employees proactively through AI-powered simulations tailored to each user. Conventional anti-phishing tools depend on rigid heuristics and outdated examples that fail against attacks adapting in real-time.

In contrast, Jericho's AI-centric system continuously co-evolves with emerging threats to keep trainings fresh. The company is currently piloting its AI-powered security awareness platform with major enterprises across finance, healthcare, government, and other sectors at risk of targeted attacks.

For approximately $3 per employee monthly, Jericho aims to make AI-enhanced defense affordable and accessible. The startup was founded earlier this year by veterans of the AI and enterprise software spaces, including ex-CEO of AI startup Agolo, Sage Wohns.

“The rapid emergence of generative AI has put a severe strain on the status quo of corporate cybersecurity. The ease with which attacks can be personalized and adapted at scale has made the traditional approaches almost completely obsolete, virtually overnight,” said Wohns, CEO of Jericho Security.

“Reactive approaches, intended to mitigate lawsuits and bad PR, are wholly insufficient to the desired outcome of actual security. Proactive cybersecurity — actually preventing attacks — takes tools, skills, and culture, and we built Jericho to help organizations do exactly that. Our mission is to defend the world from the new threats of generative AI.”

With their experience applying AI across industries, the team hopes to lead adoption in modern cybersecurity.

Investors believe AI-focused cybersecurity firms like Jericho will become essential as threats employ more sophisticated AI themselves. The funding round reflects growing excitement about AI's potential to disrupt traditional approaches.

“With the rise in sophistication of AI tools, we believe the new sector around AI containment will be a substantial opportunity, and Jericho has a winning team and the right approach to become the category-leader in this space,” said investor Jasper Lau of Era, who led the round.


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