Protect AI, a startup specializing in the development of tools to enhance the security of AI systems, has announced a $35 million Series A funding round. The round was led by Evolution Equity Partners and saw participation from Salesforce Ventures, Acrew Capital, boldstart ventures, Knollwood Capital, and Pelion Ventures. The funding will be used to enhance the capabilities of Protect AI’s platform, expand research efforts, and launch new open source projects.
Founded by former AWS and Oracle executives Ian Swanson and Daryan Dehghanpisheh in 2022, Protect AI has grown from a small team to a workforce of 25 within 13 months. The company plans to increase its headcount to 40 by the end of the year.
Protect AI’s Mission and Services
Protect AI was founded with the mission to help customers build a safer AI-powered world. The company offers a range of services designed to address what Swanson describes as AI security “weak points.” Its flagship tool, AI Radar, provides visibility into the various components used to build an AI model, including the data used for training, testing datasets, and code. It then generates a “machine learning bill of materials” (MLBOM) to identify potential threats and risks.
The Need for AI Security
While there is currently no evidence to suggest that AI models and the apps powering them are being attacked on a mass scale, Swanson argues that as AI becomes more broadly adopted in sensitive industries, such as finance and healthcare, it’s only a matter of time before that changes. Protect AI’s services are designed to preemptively address these potential threats.
Expansion of Services and Future Plans
In addition to AI Radar, Protect AI offers tools to mitigate certain types of AI attacks, such as prompt injection attacks. The company can also scan documents from Jupyter Notebook, a popular platform used to create AI models and run data science experiments, for common issues. These include personally identifiable information, internal-use authentication tokens and credentials, and open source code with a “nonpermissive” license that might prohibit it from being used in commercial systems.
Protect AI is working to transition from machine learning operations (MLOps) to machine learning security operations (MLSecOps) at scale within large enterprises. The company has managed to carve out a niche for itself in the nascent space for AI-defending security tools, with high-profile private and public sector customers in the financial services, healthcare, life sciences, and energy industries.
This funding round marks a significant milestone for Protect AI as it continues to innovate in the field of AI security, setting the stage for a new era in the AI industry.
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