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Fed Hill startup Terbium Labs gets $6.4 million in venture funding

Fed Hill firm that brings different meaning to the phrase hash tag gets $6.4 million funding boost.

Cybersecurity startup Terbium Labs has raised $6.4 million in venture capital funding, the Federal Hill company announced Monday.

Danny Rogers, Terbium's CEO, said the cash infusion will help the Baltimore company market and improve Matchlight, the system it has developed to detect when stolen information is posted online. Rogers expects to hire five more employees this year, increasing his staff by half.

"We have some big plans this year to make our product more widely available," Rogers said in an interview.

The fundraising was led by Boston-based investment firm .406 Ventures and brings the company's total raised to $9.7 million. Greg Dracon, a partner at .406 Ventures who sits on Terbium's board, said he thinks Matchlight will find customers among security teams.

"Matchlight picks up where traditional prevention tools fail, giving organizations the ability to counter data theft quickly, privately and affordably," Dracon said.

Terbium has its origins in the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. Rogers founded the company in 2013, a time when he thought private businesses were facing more sophisticated cyberattacks and struggling to defend themselves.

Rather that developing a product to boost the defenses of companies' networks, Terbium works to give its clients an earlier warning when their information is stolen by providing an automated system to detect confidential information that has been posted online.

"You can't stop every attack, so the next best thing is private and automated detection," Rogers said.

The system has two main components.

First, Terbium generates encoded fingerprints — known as hashes — of the information its clients want to protect. The hashing process produces a unique value for a piece of information but works in one direction only, so Terbium can't deduce the underlying data from the fingerprint.

Matchlight then monitors the Internet, including hidden sites and other places not normally reached by search engines, sometimes known as the "Dark Web," generating hashes of posted information and looking for any matches with the data its clients want to guard.

The system works similarly to the way search engines like Google scour the Web with programs known as spiders to index sites for easier searching. But Matchlight delves deeper into chat rooms, hidden forums and illegal online marketplaces.

The company says its system is hundreds of times faster in detecting that information has been taken than traditional methods, which Rogers said usually involve investigators combing the Web by hand.

Like many security companies, Terbium doesn't disclose its clients. But Rogers said the firm had customers in several industries, including finance and technology, and has forged partnerships with IBM and Thomson Reuters.

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