Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Email Security & Protection , Fraud Management & Cybercrime

Cisco Buys Armorblox to Bring Generative AI to Its Portfolio

SentinelOne-Backed Armorblox Protects Email Through Natural Language Understanding
Cisco Buys Armorblox to Bring Generative AI to Its Portfolio

Cisco plans to make its third tuck-in cybersecurity acquisition of 2023 to protect email, cloud office applications and enterprise communications through natural language understanding.

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The San Jose, California-based networking giant plans to take advantage of Armorblox's predictive and generative artificial intelligence to help customers better understand and interact with security control points, said Cisco Security Chief Product Officer Raj Chopra. He praised the Silicon Valley-based startup for pioneering the use of large language models and natural language understanding in cybersecurity (see: Cisco's New XDR Tool Emphasizes Robust Telemetry Correlation).

"The first application of Armorblox's advanced techniques was securing the most significant way enterprise users get routinely attacked - yes, I'm talking about email," Chopra wrote in a blog post Wednesday. "Through this acquisition, though, we see many exciting broad security use cases and possibilities to unlock."

Terms of the acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of July, weren't disclosed, and Cisco declined to make an executive available for additional comment. IT-Harvest estimates that Armorblox is worth between $71 million and $97 million based on available funding and revenue data. Cisco's stock is down $0.07 - or 0.14% - to $49.60 per share in after-hours trading Wednesday.

Cisco's Third Security Acquisition of 2023

Cisco has recently bucked the security M&A slowdown trend and capitalized on depressed valuations to scoop up early-stage startups at a reduced price. The company agreed in February to purchase Valtix to enforce policies across public cloud environments and agreed in March to buy Lightspin for a reported $200 to $250 million to deliver context, prioritization and remediation tips for cloud-native resources (see: Cisco Buys Startup Lightspin to Address Cloud Security Risks).

Armorblox was founded in July 2017, employs 126 people and has raised $46.5 million in four rounds of outside funding. The company most recently closed a round led by SentinelOne's venture capital arm in September 2022. IT-Harvest estimates that Armorblox has annual revenue of $11.4 million, or roughly $90,000 per employee. Armorblox has 79 workers in the United States and 22 in India, IT-Harvest found.

"Through this acquisition though, we see many exciting broad security use cases and possibilities to unlock."
– Raj Chopra, chief product officer, Cisco Security

Armorblox's leadership team has experience at Netskope, StackRox, ThoughtSpot and Duo Security, which was bought by Cisco for $2.35 billion in fall 2018. CEO DJ Sampath led StackRox's engineering, Chief Product Officer Anand Raghavan led product management at ThoughtSpot, and General Counsel Mandy Legal served as Duo's head of legal for nearly six years, including when the firm was part of Cisco.

“We dove deep with the Armorblox team into their technology and were impressed," SentinelOne Innovation Lead Ido Kotler said in September. "Armorblox has strong capabilities in machine learning and natural language understanding which, when applied to email security, result in high detection rates and low false positives."

58,000 Customers in Less Than 6 Years

Once the acquisition closes, Armorblox will join Cisco's security business group and bring generative AI experiences to the company's security portfolio. Valtix also will join Cisco's security team while Lightspin will join the company's emerging technologies and incubation business, which focuses on cloud-native and cloud security technologies.

Chopra said Armorblox's capabilities can help with everything from enhanced attack prediction to rapid threat detection and efficient policy enforcement. Armorblox today uses natural language understanding to stop business email compromise and targeted phishing attacks, protect sensitive PII and PCI data, and automate remediation of user-reported email threats, according to IT-Harvest.

Armorblox is used by more than 58,000 organizations, including technology companies such as SentinelOne, Intermedia and ConnectWise; higher education institutions such as Caltech and Hudson Valley Community College; municipalities such as San Jose and Palo Alto, California; and retailers such as Albertsons. The company said it has threat protection, URL protection, data loss prevention and security operations products.

"Complexity equals data. Lots of data," Chopra wrote. "You just have to know how to use it. That's where generative AI comes in."

About the Author

Michael Novinson

Michael Novinson

Managing Editor, Business, ISMG

Novinson is responsible for covering the vendor and technology landscape. Prior to joining ISMG, he spent four and a half years covering all the major cybersecurity vendors at CRN, with a focus on their programs and offerings for IT service providers. He was recognized for his breaking news coverage of the August 2019 coordinated ransomware attack against local governments in Texas as well as for his continued reporting around the SolarWinds hack in late 2020 and early 2021.

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