Immersive Labs, a cybersecurity skills platform founded by former GCHQ researcher James Hadley, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is Goldman Sachs, with participation from a number of unnamed private investors.
Operating in the cybersecurity training space, Immersive Labs helps enterprise IT and other cybersecurity teams acquire the latest security skills by combining up to date threat data with what is described as “gamified” learning. This sees the startup use real-time feeds of the latest attack techniques, hacker psychology and technological vulnerabilities to quickly create “cyber war games” for IT and security teams to learn from.
The idea is that the platform can up-skill people within hours of a threat emerging, in addition to being used more generally to help identify and remedy less immediate weaknesses in a company’s cybersecurity team.
“First, there is a big picture problem that the world is crying out for cybersecurity talent and is currently struggling to fill that gap,” Immersive Labs founder and CEO James Hadley tells me. “Secondly, the way that cyber skills are being taught is massively obsolete and puts the companies they work for at risk. On many occasions, what is taught is out of date before people leave the classroom.”
The inspiration for Immersive Labs was born out of Hadley’s experience running a summer school at GCHQ. It was while running the course that he came to the realisation that “passive classroom-based learning doesn’t suit the people, or pace, of cybersecurity.”
“Not only does the content date quickly, but the lack of challenge is just not enough for the curious and creative minds required to be good in cyber. You can’t dictate, they have to teach themselves through exploration,” he says.
“We let technical and security teams learn cyber skills like an attacker, allowing them to keep pace by combining breaking threat data with short browser-based war games. This takes the form of a series of stories that encourage people to research, analyse and build their own attacks and solutions. Whilst doing this, they learn in a fun and compelling way.”
To that end, Immersive Labs says its Series A funding will be used to grow its offering for enterprise IT and cybersecurity teams. This will include investing in headcount and infrastructure to develop the platform further, and to support the company’s go-to-market strategy. Current clients include global corporates with complex cybersecurity needs, such as BAE Systems, Sophos and Grant Thornton.