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Greg Martin, CEO, JASK (JASK photo)

Enterprise security is a much more labor-intensive task that a lot of people realize, and a new cybersecurity startup intends to use an artificial intelligence model to help security teams decide which threats require their immediate attention.

JASK, a new startup founded by two longtime security professionals, plans to announce Tuesday that it has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Dell Technologies Capital, with existing investors Battery Ventures and Vertical Venture Partners participating in the round. Later this year the company plans to release a product currently in testing that plugs into a security operations center and monitors threats as they pass through the system, learning how highly-trained security workers respond to threats and building an AI model around that data.

“The way that we’re doing security operations is fundamentally broken,” said Greg Martin, co-founder and CEO of JASK. “We’re scaling by just using people, and that’s what we have to change.”

Martin and co-founder Damian Miller worked together at ArcSight, now part of HPE, building security operations centers for large companies over several years. They observed first-hand how expert security pros respond to threats identified by network monitoring software: “in the current environment of security operations, we have organizations that are looking at 100 to 1,000 security alerts a day that require manual human-led investigations, and the average alert takes seven minutes to investigate,” he said.

The idea behind JASK is to monitor security operations at its customers and effectively “crowdsource” the best ways to respond to common security threats, Martin said. As it builds knowledge, JASK’s AI model will first identify the most pressing threats facing an organization for help prioritizing response efforts, and later versions will automatically deploy countermeasures based on a given set of rules, he said.

There’s no shortage of startups working on bringing artificial intelligence to security: Microsoft just acquired Hexadite, a company working on a similar product, and Amazon Web Services acquired harvest.ai earlier this year. On Monday, AI security startup SparkCognition announced it had raised $32.5 million from the corporate investment arms of Verizon and Boeing.

Martin thinks JASK has a chance to stand out because it is focused on gathering security-response data from across a wide variety of companies, building a knowledge base of common security threats that its customers could never acquire on their own.

“If we don’t start sharing information about that the types of attacks, how are we being targeted, we’re never going to be able to put a dent in this problem.” This is a common lament in the security world: most security people know they aren’t the only ones being facing tricky attacks, but nobody likes to admit they’ve been hacked, and corporate managers are loathe to share any amount of internal data with possible competitors.

JASK raised $2.5 million in funding last year from its existing investors. Those investors were betting on the expertise of Martin and Miller’s experience at ArcSight as well as Martin’s record founding Threatstream, a security company now known as Anomali.

The company has 26 employees, most of whom are based in San Francisco, and it is running its products entirely on Amazon Web Services: “If you’re going to build a good AI technology company, cloud is really the only option,” Martin said.

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