A Chat with Tim Sadler, CEO and Co-Founder at Security Software Company: Tessian

Tessian is the leading human layer security company, and our mission is to empower people to do their best work, without security getting in their way. For a long time, security software has focused on protecting the machine layer in organisations – the networks and devices – but not the people. Our platform uses machine learning technology to automatically predict and eliminate advanced threats caused by human error.

Today, we’re focused on stopping threats on email – like data exfiltration, accidental data loss, business email compromise and phishing attacks – by alerting people of the threats in real-time and advising them on what to do next. Tessian was founded in 2013, and we’re backed by renowned investors like Sequoia, Accel, March Capital and Balderton Capital.
 
 
Tessian | Enterprise Email Security Software | Human Layer Security
 

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
While working at large global banks, my co-founders and I saw a problem which had not yet been solved. We realised that despite the fact that banks spend millions on security software to protect their networks and devices, they weren’t investing in solutions to protect people from causing data breaches or data leaks.

On a number of occasions, we saw incidents whereby colleagues would accidentally send emails containing sensitive information to the wrong person. As a result of these simple mistakes, deals fell through, and customers’ trust eroded. We believed that machine learning technology could – and should – be able to prevent these mistakes from turning into serious security incidents.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
During the pandemic, phishing attacks more than doubled in frequency, while the knock-on effects of remote working created more opportunities for accidental data loss as employees adapted to new ways of working.

For example, bad actors successfully impersonated government agencies, healthcare organisations and software companies in sophisticated and convincing phishing attacks. What’s more, our research found that nearly half of employees had made mistakes that compromised company security while working from home. The stress, distraction and disruption from Covid-19 all acted as contributors to accidental behaviour, such as sending an email to the wrong person or clicking on a link in a phishing email.

In response to this changing threat landscape, Tessian updated its real-time alerts to warn people of Covid-19 related phishing scams, encouraging employees to think before they clicked on a malicious email. In addition, Tessian has also helped its customers gain visibility into threats like accidental data loss and data exfiltration – visibility that many IT leaders lacked in their distributed workforces. By helping IT leaders identify their riskiest and most at-risk employees, we were able to help our customers keep their employees and their company data safe.

Tessian has also evolved in relation to how we support our staff’s wellbeing. With our company value of ‘Human First’ at front of mind, we launched a number of wellbeing initiatives to help our staff cope with stress during the pandemic – such as company days off to relax. And, moving forward, we will no longer be an ‘office-first’ company. Instead, we are giving our employees the choice of whether they continue to work remotely, in the office, or as a flexi-employee.
 

What can we hope to see from Tessian in the future?

 
Tessian just raised its Series C and, with the new funding, we have plans to expand the platform’s capabilities in order to help companies replace their secure email gateways and legacy data loss prevention solutions. We’ll also be expanding beyond email to secure other interfaces like messaging, web and collaboration platforms. This will be a huge step to fulfilling our company’s mission of securing the human layer.

The funding will also be used to triple our rapidly growing employee base, with a particular focus on growing the sales team in North America.