We spend much of our computer time in a web browser, checking emails, creating documents, transferring files, banking online, shopping or streaming entertainment. This leaves us vulnerable to security threats like phishing, identity theft and session hijacking, but many cybersecurity tools were created when the main threats were file viruses, worms and network attacks, said Vivek Ramachandran, the cybersecurity entrepreneur and researcher who discovered the Cafe Latte attack.
To combat browser-based vulnerabilities, Ramachandran founded SquareX. The Singapore-based cybersecurity startup announced today that it has raised $6 million in seed funding from Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia, which it will use for R&D engineering and its go-to-market plans.
SquareX aims to be an alternative to current cybersecurity products by being tailor-made for browser-based cloud SaaS tools. It integrates with browsers as an extension and lets users open links and files in disposable browsers that serve as temporary container sandboxes. The headless browsers run in SquareX’s data centers so threats don’t reach users’ computers and they don’t have to worry about their personal information being exposed.
Before launching SquareX, Ramachandran was the founder of Pentester Academy, a cloud-based cybersecurity training startup that helps users and enterprises study how hackers break into their businesses. Pentester Academy was acquired by INE in 2021.
Ramachandran told MinRegion that while running Pentester Academy, his clients complained about how often their security products were disabled by users because they got in the way of their productivity. For example, someone in the process of receiving an important Word document from a contact would have that file marked as malware and eventually disable the security software in order to view it. As a result, Ramachandran realized that many security products are actually counterproductive because they make people less likely to use them.
As a result, he created SquareX, which does not block access to files or resources, even if they are categorized as potentially malicious. Instead, it uses its disposable browsers. Ramachandran said that SquareX is intended as an alternative to VPN, antivirus, antimalware and other endpoint security solutions.
SquareX’s disposable browsers enable anonymous browsing from anywhere. Users can “discard” it at any time, meaning no data is retained and the browser session is immediately destroyed and removed from SquareX’s servers. Ramachandran said it is more secure and private than incognito mode as websites the user visits or files they download are not stored on their computer.
“By creating disposable environments, SquareX ensures that a user’s identity and data are decoupled when accessing the Internet,” he added. “This ensures that even the most sophisticated website trackers cannot track and log the users’ activities and link them to their identities.”
SquareX’s go-to-market strategy will focus first on the United States, United Kingdom, and Asia.
In a statement on the funding, Anandamoy Roychowdhary, Surge partner at Sequoia Southeast Asia, said: “The online world is about to take a turn for the worse as the AI revolution is focused on building malicious code. Any cybersecurity solution out there is only likely to succeed in protecting internet users, which isn’t very pleasant when they get hacked and lose money. SquareX is the first solution we’ve seen that takes a 100% protection approach, where no matter how new and sophisticated the attack is, it has no chance of infecting users. This is the future we believe all internet users deserve.”