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Our investment in Sentra

What inspired Bessemer to co-lead the $23 million seed round in a phenomenal team reimagining data security in the cloud.

By Amit Karp and Yael Schiff 8.8.22

At Bessemer, we have always been big believers that cyber security should start with a data-first mindset, so when we met the Sentra team, we were captivated by their value proposition to seamlessly identify sensitive data in the cloud. More importantly, we quickly recognized they were one of the strongest cyber teams in the industry. The founding team includes Asaf Kochan, the former head of Unit 8200, Yoav Regev, the head of the cyber department in 8200, Ron Reiter, a serial technical entrepreneur, and Yair Cohen, an experienced product leader. Together, they bring a unique blend of both deep technical and product capabilities with senior leadership experience.

We admired the Sentra team’s ambition to build security solutions for enterprises without slowing down the business, and it was the team’s practical and complementary skill sets that make them so unique in the Israeli entrepreneurial ecosystem. Soon, we expect them to be known globally.

With increased data, comes responsibility for better security

With data growing exponentially over the past decade, Sentra saw how organizations were moving to the cloud in droves and storing massive amounts of data. Today, organizations are able to process and store unprecedented amounts of data, quickly, and at an accessible price. With new advancements in cloud computing and data transformation tools, it’s also easier than ever to move and change the volumes of stored data with minimal effort. Yet, this huge migration of data to the cloud also generated a new set of challenges to solve—and Sentra sought to build the solution to help teams better secure their data.

As digital transformation escalated, organizations’ data began to spread across countless applications, databases, and cloud environments. The decentralization and democratization of data did result in organizations storing, replicating, accessing, and sharing data, leading to significant productivity gains. But one unintended consequence of data’s decentralization and democratization is it’s increasingly difficult to track where data resides. And when an organization doesn’t have a good grasp of what data it has and where it lives, the security risks are obvious. While most security products today protect a specific ‘physical’ location: endpoints, databases, cloud, SaaS applications, and so on, it is the underlying data that needs to be protected, not the physical location.

Better posture for better security

As the Sentra team started looking into this emerging category of cyber security and data privacy engineering, they interviewed dozens of CISOs, Chief Data Officers and Compliance Officers, asking them: (1) Do you know where your sensitive data is stored? (2) Do you know what people and which third party services have access to your sensitive data?

From these conversations, Sentra was surprised to learn that most companies did not have a good answer to either of these relatively basic questions. Most leaders did not hold a data inventory, and were struggling to point out where personal information, credit card information, source code, and other sensitive information sits. As one CISO described it: “It is not the data I know that keeps me up at night, but the numerous data sources we have spread around which I just don’t know.” On top of that, security teams cannot guarantee that the security controls they put in place, follow the data in movement across cloud environments. (For those interested, read “Security for growth companies” on Atlas.)

With this knowledge, the Sentra team came up with a solution that would address these challenges, and built a comprehensive Data Security Posture Management Platform, which serves organizations in the following ways:

  1. Provide an agentless, comprehensive data inventory that will map where the organization’s information is.
  2. Classify sensitive and critical data based on their business impact.
  3. Find risk, and flag top issues while providing the full context of access and security controls, access activity, data flows and more.
  4. Remediate the risk and improve data protection, as well as routing top issues to the relevant teams.

One of the main aspects we liked in Sentra’s platform was the simplicity of its deployment and read-only permissions to the cloud environment—all with no agents installed, providing faster time to value, like clear visibility of sensitive assets in locations the company wasn’t aware of.

When we first got to know the team, and worked alongside them as they explored this emerging area of cyber security, we knew we wanted to back their vision. Since then, the Sentra team has been progressing at an incredible pace, hired some of the best security talent in Israel, and developed a product deployed with multiple customers. Having seen them perform over the past year, we are even more confident Sentra will become an industry leader in the rapidly growing Data Security Posture Management (DSPM) space.