Amid ‘fake news’ crisis, Averon raises another $5M to grow its cybersecurity identity platform

Mobile identity verification standard creator Averon has brought in another $5 million in funding, led by Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff and Avalon Ventures, helping to bolster its cybersecurity platform in the ongoing fight against “fake news.”

Lea Tarnowski, cofounder, president and COO of Averon, spoke with OWI on Wednesday after the latest funding round was made official. In addition to building new technologies and enhancing its current services, the $5 million will also be used to expand its team, she said.

The “A1” round follows a Series A round last summer, also led by Avalon Ventures, that brought in $8.3 million.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Averon technology uses real-time mobile network signals from a user’s smartphone and its SIM or eSIM chip. In this way, its technology could tell, for example, if someone posting online claiming to be from Rhode Island is actually in Russia.

The announcement is timely, as foreign actors have worked to influence elections and national debates by spamming social media platforms and comment sections. In many cases, the so-called “trolls” have been found to be from Russia, impersonating people from the country they are targeting. Platforms have struggled to weed out these types of cyberattacks, but it’s the kind of problem that Averon’s identity solution can be used to target.

Tarnowski told OWI her company’s technology stands out, because it is capable of authenticating that someone is a real person, all while maintaining their privacy. It’s also capable of doing so whether users are on Wi-Fi or LTE.

In other words, a system can verify that you are who you say you are, without gaining access to unnecessary details, such as your name, specific location, or online history.

Wednesday’s latest funding reveal was identified as an “A1” because the company’s initial Series A round was, in their words, “heavily oversubscribed.” The full Series A amount comes to $13.3 million.

Beyond its authentication technology, Averon is also involved in strengthening blockchain security, protecting against main-in-the-middle attacks, social engineering efforts and more. Its solution leverages mobile carrier data signaling and hardware — capabilities already built in to the same smartphones already in users’ pockets.

Officials from Averon will be in attendance at OWI’s KNOW Identity Conference, which takes place next week — March 26 through 28 — in Washington D.C. Tickets are still available for the opportunity to see keynote speakers Scott Galloway, founder of L2 Inc; Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget; Anousheh Ansari, CEO, chair, and cofounder of Prodea Systems; and Nick Shapiro, global head of trust and risk management at Airbnb.

“Averon is the first cybersecurity platform built to combat fake news, election tampering, financial hacking, stolen email accounts, and cyberterrorism,” Tarnowski said in a press release. “From securing the blockchain to defending commerce and each individual’s privacy, Averon is helping craft the future of the internet as it should be — truly secure and accessible for everyone. In this way, Averon is establishing a more peaceful and secure online experience for all by fostering an authentically human-centered digital world.”