More cash for cybersecurity: Onapsis raises $17 million for enterprise software

Cyber Security 926

It seems like investors can’t get enough of cybersecurity startups, and Massachusetts companies are reaping the rewards.

Boston-based Onapsis, a seller of security software for big businesses, has raised $17 million in fresh capital to help it hire more workers in research and development, sales and marketing, and customer support.

The startup, which also has offices in South America and Europe, plans to grow from about 80 employees to more than 100 by year’s end, chief executive Mariano Nunez said. Onapsis has now raised about $30 million since its founding in 2009.

Onapsis’ software helps companies pinpoint weak spots and identify digital attacks in human resources, supply-chain management, and other behind-the-scenes software programs that big businesses rely on to manage their operations. Those underlying programs are supplied by companies like SAP, which Onapsis works with to identify potential security problems, Nunez said.

Although these applications are critical to their bottom line, many businesses haven’t focused on securing the programs themselves until relatively recently, Nunez said. That’s due in part to broader cybersecurity trends, which have previously focused on securing company networks and individual devices, such as computers or smartphones.

“It was a blind spot,” he said. “They were basically securing everything but the systems that house their crown jewels.”

That tide has begun to shift as high-profile hacking episodes make their way into the headlines.

Onapsis points specifically to the 2014 data breach at a company that supplied background checks to the federal government, which happened when a hacker was able to penetrate a third-party software supplier.

That’s just one in a spate of hacking episodes to make headlines in recent years, including the breach of some 40 million payment cards at Target stores, which was linked to data shared with an outside contractor.

Onapsis’ new cash comes amid a surge of interest in cybersecurity companies, from customers and investors alike. Gartner, a market research firm, estimates that global sales of computer security products and services will grow from $80 billion this year to $93 billion in 2017.

In New England, the sector’s growth has been led by the July initial public offering of Rapid7, a Boston-based security software company, which was the Boston area’s first tech-company IPO of 2015.

Onapsis’ new investment round was led by Evolution Equity Partners, along with previous investor .406 Ventures, a Boston-based firm that specializes in cybersecurity startups.

“Onapsis has exceeded our expectations,” said Maria Cirino, a managing director with .406 Ventures. “It has definitely joined the ranks of the Boston-based cybersecurity elite.”