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Wiretap Raises $4.9 Million to Monitor Enterprise Social Networks

Columbus, Ohio-based startup Wiretap has closed a $4.9 million Series A financing round led by Pittsburgh-based Draper Triangle Ventures, Columbus-based Ohio Innovation Fund and Rev1 Ventures, as well as JumpStart Inc., based in Cleveland. The money will be used for sales, marketing and R&D.

Wiretap has developed a platform that provides visibility into an increasingly important but dark aspect of corporate life: the enterprise social network (ESN). Slack is a prime example, although there are many others such as Microsoft Yammer, and Workplace by Facebook.

ESNs provide the modern 'water-cooler' environment, where employees meet informally for both corporate and social collaboration. The difficulty for management is that it has no visibility into that environment, leaving a new and unmeasured threat vector.

A November 2016 study by Persistence Market Research titled Enterprise Social Networks and Online Communities Market: Global Industry Analysis and Forecast 2016–2026 predicts that the ESN and online community market will grow from $2.6 billion in 2016 to $12.18 billion by 2026. It comments, "Online collaboration of business information with social networking websites creates an opportunity for hackers to illegally access information or gain unauthorized access to critical business data through social websites."

Wiretap monitors the ESNs and provides unique visibility into corporate sentiment. Using artificial intelligence, including behavioral and linguistic analysis, it provides management awareness of corporate social health. This could be used to highlight the problems that initially cause dissatisfaction and ultimately lead to insider threats, allowing HR to intervene and address the problem. Or it could be used to monitor for potential or actual leaks of PII or IP.

Wiretap CEO Jeff Schumann told SecurityWeek that the current problems faced by Uber are an example of corporate health issues that could be highlighted and subsequently solved with Wiretap in place. Uber's HR team were apparently unaware of the undercurrent of sexual harassment within the organization until it finally boiled over. In June, it was forced to sack 20 full time employees; and there will likely be more to follow. The damage to brand image is inestimable.

Schumann suggested that linguistic and behavioral analysis of ESNs will highlight growing discontent within the company, allowing HR to intervene and improve or at least manage the situation. Individual grievances that can slowly grow into insider threat motivation can also be highlighted.

By monitoring and analyzing ESNs over time, management will get the tools to predict and address corporate health issues. "As the demand and popularity of Enterprise Social Networks soars, Wiretap bridges a critical security gap -- ensuring the enterprise remains secure while maximizing the productivity and inherent collaboration of their ESN investments," explains Schumann.

"Rev1 Ventures is committed to supporting high-growth companies, like Wiretap, as they scale and grow," said Rev1 Ventures EVP for investment funds, Ryan Helon. "With an innovative approach for securing enterprise collaboration tools and a compelling vision for helping companies maximize social channels for better engagement and performance, Wiretap is poised for explosive success and we're excited to be part of their journey."

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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.