Endpoint security — the branch of cybersecurity that focuses on data coming in from laptops, phones, and other devices connected to a network — is an $8 billion dollar market that, due to the onslaught of network breaches, is growing fast. To underscore that demand, one of the bigger startups in the space is announcing a sizeable funding round.
SentinelOne, which provides real-time endpoint protection on laptops, phones, containers, cloud services and most recently IoT devices on a network through a completely autonomous, AI-based platform, has raised $120 million in a Series D round — money that it will be using to continue expanding its current business as well as forge into new areas such as building more tools to automatically detect and patch software running on those endpoints, to keep them as secure as possible.
The funding was led by Insight Partners, with Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, NextEquity participating, alongside all of the company’s existing investors, which include the likes of Third Point Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Data Collective, Sound Ventures and Ashton Kutcher, Tiger Global, Granite Hill and more.
SentinelOne is not disclosing its valuation with this round, but CEO and co-founder Tomer Weingarten confirmed it was up compared to its previous funding events. SentinelOne has now raised just shy of $130 million, and PitchBook notes that in its last round, it was valued at $210 post-money.
That would imply that this round values SentinelOne at more than $330 million, likely significantly more: “We are one of the youngest companies working in endpoint security, but we also have well over 2,000 customers and 300% growth year-on-year,” Weingarten said. And working in the area of software-as-a-service with a fully-automated solution that doesn’t require humans to run any aspect of it, he added, “means we have high margins.”
The rise in cyberattacks resulting from malicious hackers exploiting human errors — such as clicking on phishing links; or bringing in and using devices from outside the network running software that might not have its security patches up to date — has resulted in a stronger focus on endpoint security and the companies that provide it.
Indeed, SentinelOne is not alone. Crowdstrike, another large startup in the same space as SentinelOne, is now looking at a market cap of at least $4 billion when it goes public. Carbon Black, which went public last year, is valued at just above $1 billion. Another competitor, Cylance, was snapped up by BlackBerry for $1.5 billion.
Weingarten — who cofounded the company with Almog Cohen (CTO) and Ehud Shamir (CSO) — says that SentinelOne differs from its competitors in the field because of its focus on being fully autonomous.
“We’re able to digest massive amounts of data and run machine learning to detect any type of anomaly in an automated manner,” he said, describing Crowdstrike as “tech augmented by services.” That’s not to say SentinelOne is completely without human options (options being the key word; they’re not required): it offers its own managed services under the brand name of Vigilance and works with system integrator partners to sell its products to enterprises.
There is another recurring issue with endpoint security solutions, which is that they are known to throw up a lot of false positives — items that are not recognized by the system that subsequently get blocked, which turn out actually to be safe. Weingarten admits that this is a by-product of all these systems, including SentinelOne’s.
“It’s a result of opting to use a heuristic rather than deterministic model,” he said, “but there is no other way to deal with anomalies and unknowns without heuristics, but yes with that comes false positives.” He pointed out that the company’s focus on machine learning as the basis of its platform helps it to more comprehensively ferret these out and make deductions on what might not otherwise have proper representation in its models. Working for a pilot period at each client also helps inform the algorithms to become more accurate ahead of a full rollout.
All this has helped bring down SentinelOne’s own false positive rate, which Weingarten said is around 0.04%, putting it in the bracket of lower mis-detectors in this breakdown of false positive rates by VirusTotal:
“Endpoint security is at a fascinating point of maturity, highlighting a massive market opportunity for SentinelOne’s technology and team,” said Teddie Wardi, Managing Director, Insight Partners, in a statement. “Attack methods grow more advanced by the day and customers demand innovative, autonomous technology to stay one step ahead. We recognize SentinelOne’s strong leadership team and vision to be unique in the market, as evidenced through the company’s explosive growth and highly differentiated business model from its peer cybersecurity companies.”
By virtue of digesting activity across millions of endpoints and billions of events among its customers, SentinelOne has an interesting vantage point when it comes to seeing the biggest problems of the moment.
Weingarten notes that one big trend is that the biggest attacks are now not always coming from state-sponsored entities.
“Right now we’re seeing how fast advanced techniques are funnelling down from government-sponsored attackers to any cyber criminal. Sophisticated malicious hacking can now come from anywhere,” he said.
When it comes to figuring out what is most commonly creating vulnerabilities at an organization, he said it was the challenge of keeping up to date with security patches. Unsurprisingly, it’s something that SentinelOne plans to tackle with a new product later this year — one reason for the large funding round this time around.
“Seamless patching is absolutely something that we are looking at,” he said. “We already do vulnerability assessments today and so we have the data to tell you what is out of date. The next logical step is to seamlessly track those apps and issue the patches automatically.”
Indeed it’s this longer term vision of how the platform will be developing, and how it’s moving in response to what the current threats are today, that attracted the backers. (Indeed the IoT element of the “endpoint” focus is a recent additions.
“SentinelOne’s combination of best-in-class EPP and EDR functionality is a magnet for engagement, but it’s the company’s ability to foresee the future of the endpoint market that attracted us as a technology partner,” a rep from Samsung Venture Investment Corporation said in a statement. “Extending tech stacks beyond EPP and EDR to include IoT is the clear next step, and we look forward to collaborating with SentinelOne on its groundbreaking work in this area.
FTC warns consumers of scam calls claiming to be from Apple and Amazon
The FTC has issued a warning to consumers this week to let people know that scammers are calling and using the names of two of the largest and best-known companies in the United States. The scammers are calling consumers and claiming to be from Apple and Amazon in an attempt to steal. In one of the scams, the FTC says consumers receive a call or recorded message claiming to be Amazon.
The message says there’s something wrong with an Amazon account, such as a suspicious purchase, lost package, or order that can’t be fulfilled. In another form of the scam, the recorded message says there is suspicious activity on the Apple iCloud account. The message says that the account may have been breached.
In both scams, the messages tell listeners to press one to speak with someone or a phone number is given a call. The FTC is warning people not to do either; both of these messages are scams. The goal is scams is to steal personal information, like account passwords or credit card numbers.
The FTC says don’t press one to speak with customer support, don’t call the phone number they give you, and don’t give out personal information. The FTC says if people are concerned, they should contact Amazon or Apple using a phone number or website that is known to be real if they are concerned.
Consumers are urged to report any calls they think is a scam directly to the FTC. Scammers are out in force each holiday season, and new scams are nothing new. With most consumers doing online shopping from Amazon, it’s easy for many people to fall for scams if they are unaware.
Samsung One UI 3 update released for USA Galaxy S20 phones
Today the One UI 3 with Android 11 OS was finally released for the Samsung Galaxy S20 family of devices. If you’re using a Samsung Galaxy Note 20, there’s good news for you as well – just so long as “in the coming weeks” sounds like an amount of time you’re willing to wait for this same update. The Samsung One UI 3 with Android 11 OS update will begin to rollout today “in the US on Galaxy S20 series devices” per Samsung’s official press release.
The Samsung One UI 3 with Android 11 OS update includes a “new, refreshed design” that’ll revitalize and reinvigorate the Samsung phone experience. A Samsung suggested in its most updated set of details on the update, this includes “visual enhancements to highly important information on the home screen, lock screen, notifications, and Quick Panel.” This update also includes “new visual effects” for the device’s user interface, including Dim and Blur.
This update includes an improved set of abilities in the Samsung Galaxy S20 standard camera app. Samsung suggests that the auto-exposure system works better, and that autofocus has been improved. The standard Gallery app has an update that allows the user to better organize categories “to quickly find photos.”
This update adds the user ability to customize the “share sheet” for sharing images, videos, and documents. There’s a newly redesigned set of lock screen widgets that’ll allow users to view important information and control music without needing to fully unlock the device.
This update also adds “Samsung Free,” which might not be particularly welcome by some users. This is “a tailored channel full of news, games, and free content from Samsung TV Plus all available with a simple right-swipe from the Home screen. Cross your fingers we’ll have the option to disable this screen, or you can bet there’ll be feedback.
If you own a Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy S20+. or Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, you’ll likely find the One UI 3 with Android 11 OS update available this week. Drop in to your Settings and scroll all the way to the bottom to find System Updates – tap in and check!
Galaxy S21 S Pen must-have features for the stylus to thrive
There is no shortage of talk about the death of the Galaxy Note line next year and most of those revolve around one or two “facts”. Samsung is undoubtedly grooming the Galaxy Z Fold series to eventually take its place but perhaps more significant is how the Galaxy S21 will reportedly gain its signature feature, the Wacom-powered S Pen. That will naturally raise questions on whether the stylus is still relevant today, enough to justify the added cost of a digitizer for what most might consider an esoteric feature. There are actually a few things that Samsung can do to make sure it actually gets the message across this time.
It would almost be a shame if Samsung axed the Galaxy Note 21, given that it will be the series’ tenth birthday next year. That is also how long the S Pen has been in existence and it’s both amusing and tragic that there is still some confusion and doubt about its raison d’être.
Sure, the phone stylus has its share of fans and loyal believers and there are even some from Apple’s camp who continue to believe every year that the iPhone would finally support something similar. Unfortunately, Samsung itself may have contributed to the disillusionment and hesitation over what should have been its killer feature.
From the very beginning, the Galaxy Note line was poised to be the phone for productivity and serious work. While the early Android phones and iPhones allowed people to consume content on a small screen, the Galaxy Note’s large screen and stylus clearly indicated it wasn’t your typical smartphone. It may have been ahead of its time, though, as it would take years before Apple, who ridiculed its gigantic display, would itself upsize its iPhones.
But while the Galaxy Note had the hardware to sell its productivity and creativity message, it sorely lacked the experiences that would convince all but the geekiest of users. Android itself would have an app ecosystem problem that would last it for years but Samsung was pretty much a heavyweight back in those days.
Unfortunately, it didn’t use that influence to help things turn in Android’s favor, like convincing major brands or cultivating app developers to create long-lasting experiences around the S Pen. It was too busy reinventing the wheel and establish itself as a not-Android Android phone maker to focus on that.
Admittedly, Samsung did try to build an app that showcased the stylus’ power. It even made that S Note app available on mobile and Windows PCs, predating what Microsoft would later accomplish with OneNote. Unfortunately, S Note has undergone so many incompatible changes over the years that it felt unwise to put one’s digital life in Samsung’s basket.
Creativity and Productivity Redux
That’s not to say that the S Pen has outlived its usefulness. In fact, it might only be getting started. Smartphones have become truly powerful computers in our pockets that we can and do use for work these days. The app market, even on Android, has matured enough to support that use case. Samsung just needs to send the right messages to convince consumers that they will need, or even want, a stylus, messages that go beyond contrived and painful on-stage testimonies and demos.
A phone is not a tablet
It’s almost too easy to compare and contrast the Galaxy Note phones with the success of the iPad Pro line and its Apple Pencil. It’s easy enough to want those same experiences from Apple’s premiere tablets to be available on smartphones, too. While current handsets are definitely capable, it would miss out on the things that make a smartphone better than a tablet.
Samsung needs to sell the next S Pen-enabled phone not as a phone in its own right and not as a shrunken down tablet. It has to focus on experiences that take advantage of the phone’s size and portability, like quick note-taking anywhere, sketching out thumbnails, marking documents, and the like. Admittedly, Samsung already has laid the foundations for these, it just needs to make one more change.
Pledge of consistency
The S Note app, later Samsung Notes, are actually powerful tools for their times but few would consider it a reliable productivity tool the way some would look at Apple’s basic Notes app. Samsung’s note-taking app has changed drastically over the years, sometimes in incompatible ways that meant losing your old notes. It added new features, for sure, but also removed just as much. It is hard to trust a tool that would be the repository of your digital life and thoughts.
Your notes weren’t available elsewhere either, which made the idea of keeping them there less appealing. Samsung Notes now syncs with Microsoft OneNote, partially addressing that problem but it also creates a different problem. Now users will have to wonder how long before Samsung abandons its own Notes app, making it harder to invest in its features.
More stuff, less fluff
To be fair, Samsung has tried to get people excited about the S Pen but it almost seems like it ran out of ideas in the past years. Some of the new features, particularly the Bluetooth-powered gestures, felt pointless and useless anyway. Users don’t always need more new features and would probably appreciate it more if Samsung focused instead on polishing apps and experiences.
Developers, developers, developers
Android still has a bit of an app ecosystem problem even to this day. While iOS has one or two top apps in each category, Android would have half a dozen, few of which can be considered complete or almost perfect.
Google is pretty bad at long-term cultivation of apps and developers and Samsung is no different. Sure, it does highlight some apps and holds contests to motivate developers. These are mostly one-off marketing stints, however, and isn’t enough to keep developers invested in the platform, especially considering Android’s notorious monetization problems compared to iOS.
The Galaxy Note is on its way out, whether it happens next year or not. Its key feature, however, will most likely live on, even for a little while. Whether or not it becomes a defining feature of Samsung’s future premium flagships, however, will depend a lot on how Samsung handles its messaging.
All the pieces are in place and the time is ripe for a true stylus-enabled Android phone, but only if Samsung doesn’t squander the opportunity yet again.
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