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Cyan Forensics Raises $6.9 Million to Combat Pedophiles and Terrorists

Edinburgh, Scotland-based start-up Cyan Forensics has secured £5 million (approximately $6.9 million) in a Series A funding round led by Par Equity. This brings the total funding raised to date to £8 million ($11 million).

Cyan Forensics offers products designed to rapidly identify and block illegal content such as child pornography and terrorist material. It does this by comparing content with an official blocklist of banned material that is shared with customers in an encrypted and safe format. 

The content could be child exploitation images, bomb-making manuals or extremist material used in radicalization. The product is primarily designed for use by law enforcement forensic analysts, cloud companies and social media platforms.

It can be used in situ, on seized computers, or on a forensic image of hard drives. Because of its safe comparison with known illegal content, it is very accurate. What is different to many existing methods is the size of the database used for comparison and the speed of operation. It is able to scan a 1Tb hard drive in 27 minutes (MD5 hash scanning would take 7 hours, 30 minutes).

Cyan Forensics already has a contract with the UK’s Home Office to provide its tools to police forces across the UK as part of the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID). The UK government has described the rapid digital triage technology as ‘game-changing’. In the U.S., the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has described it as “having the power to make a big impact in the fight against online child sexual abuse and imagery”.

The new funding will be used by Cyan Forensics to increase its team and expand its services in mainland Europe and North America. CEO Ian Stevenson comments, “We believe globally we are at an inflection point, and that the UK is at the forefront of online safety tech and has a significant role to play in the global picture. Greater conversation, policy and integrated global change is needed to drive transformative solutions to safeguard online. Cyan is very much at the heart of this picture.”

Paul Munn, Managing Partner of Par Equity, added, “The funding will help Cyan scale up, strengthen their position in global markets and build out further applications for the Contraband Filter technology in social media, cloud and other online use cases.”

Cyan Forensics was founded in 2016 by Ian Stevenson (CEO) and Bruce Ramsay (CTO). Ramsay is a former police forensic analyst Ramsay is the current chair of OSTIA - the UK Online Safety Tech Industry Association. OSTIA works to create tech solutions to improve online safety.

Related: UK Government Proposes Digital Harms Legislation to Regulate Online Content

Related: Facebook Nixes Billions of Fake Accounts

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Kevin Townsend is a Senior Contributor at SecurityWeek. He has been writing about high tech issues since before the birth of Microsoft. For the last 15 years he has specialized in information security; and has had many thousands of articles published in dozens of different magazines – from The Times and the Financial Times to current and long-gone computer magazines.