Lupovis, a University of Strathclyde cyber security spin-out, has secured a pre-seed investment of more than £615,000 from a syndicate co-led by Techstart Ventures, a leading investor of seed capital and Nauta Capital, a pan-European venture capital firm, together with an investment by the University of Strathclyde itself.

With the global costs associated with cybercrime predicted to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025 and organisations targeted with ransomware every 11 seconds, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, cyber defences have never been more critical.

The proactive cyber defence solution led by the team at the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for Intelligent and Dynamic Communications makes the ‘hunter become the hunted.’

Deception technology

The district-based spin out is building a dynamic deception technology which uses a network of collaborative decoys to lead cyber attackers away from high value assets like personal data or sensitive information, or to stop hackers shutting down systems to damage business continuity.

Founded in June 2021, this investment establishes Lupovis as one of Scotland’s fastest growing cybersecurity start-ups and it will use the funding to expand its team and enhance further functionalities within the platform.

Artificial intelligence

Dr Xavier Bellekens, the CEO of Lupovis, said: “We are thrilled with the opportunities this investment creates to develop Lupovis’ dynamic deception capabilities.

“Our system uses artificial intelligence to create scenarios which mirror the existing infrastructure of an organisation and engages the attacker into believing they are progressing towards assets of value, turning networks from a flock of sheep to a pack of wolves.

“We are in a unique position where we have unrivalled data on attacker techniques, methods and behaviour. We will feed this data into our platform, so our customers will always remain one step ahead of attackers, predicting their next move, long before they actually make it.”

Malicious actions

Lupovis, an amalgamation of the Latin words for wolf (lupus) and sheep (ovis), offers the attacker incentives that steer them on a certain path. Once an adversary has penetrated a network, the system entices them by creating an offensive deception environment, which engages the attacker from the minute a move is made within the network.

Dr Bellekens added: “The system responds dynamically to the behaviour and skills level of the attacker by using incentives and gamifying the vulnerabilities that engage the hacker. The longer the attacker is engaged, the longer the system is blocking malicious actions that would otherwise stop the network functioning.

“The benefits are uninterrupted business continuity, whilst simultaneously gathering information on the hacker’ skills and strategies that inform security teams of the optimum counter-measure that arrests the breach.”

Strathclyde Inspire

The investment from the University of Strathclyde was made through the Strathclyde Inspire Entrepreneurs Fund, a fund which bridges the early-stage funding gap and is funded in a 50:50 split between the University and alumni donations.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “At Strathclyde we are proud of our track record of successfully commercialising innovations and discoveries made by our talented colleagues, and we have formed more than 50 spin out companies.

Lupovis is an excellent example of the cutting edge technology being developed at the University and this investment will allow the company to develop their product.
“We have invested alongside new investment partners Techstart and Nauta Capital for the first time and look forward to working with them in a new investor partnership.”

Prior to the investment, Lupovis had secured funding from: the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Cyber Security Academic Start-ups Accelerator Programme (CyberASAP), which aims to translate academic research in cyber protection to commercial opportunities; Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Start-up Programme and, CENSIS, Scotland's Innovation Centre for Sensing, Imaging and Internet of Things.

Lupovis also received £50,000 in the latest round of funding from the Scottish EDGE, a competition for high growth potential businesses.