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eSentire Inc.'s online security booth at the SecTor conference trade show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Oct. 21, 2014.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Cambridge, Ont., cybersecurity company eSentire Inc. has raised US$47-million from existing investors including New York private-equity giant Warburg Pincus LLC.

The fundraising round is the company’s first since Warburg became eSentire’s majority owner a year and a half ago. New Jersey’s Edison Partners and Toronto-based venture company Georgian Partners, one of Canada’s largest venture investors, are also returning for the funding round.

eSentire takes a “managed detection and response” (MDR) approach to digital threats, using a mix of algorithmic and human analysis to find and mitigate security breaches, particularly with data that is widely distributed, such as in the cloud. The company describes its work as akin to finding a needle in an ever-growing haystack – and knowing how to get rid of that needle.

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As technology becomes evermore sophisticated, so, too, do nefarious actors. The company says it will use the new funds for a double-barrelled investment in its fight against increasingly sophisticated threats.

First, it will expand its 24/7 security-analyst team to have more eyes combing clients’ networks for unusual threats. And it will further invest in automating existing processes – using artificial-intelligence (AI) and machine-learning techniques – so that its software can comb for threats it already has learned to detect, leaving its human analysts to hunt down new ones.

As chief administrative officer James Yersh puts it, “We can leave the eyeballs of the smart people to deal with the stuff that really needs research.”

In turn, former BlackBerry Ltd. executive Mr. Yersh said in an interview that the company can create something of a virtuous cycle. The more the analysts learn, the more they can teach their algorithms, and the more they can spend their time figuring out even newer ways that bad actors are threatening their clients.

eSentire made another significant investment in its AI-powered threat detection last October when it purchased the Seattle cybersecurity company Versive Inc.

In a media release, Warburg managing director Cary Davis called eSentire “well positioned in the high-growth cybersecurity space to further accelerate MDR adoption and innovation as organizations look to solutions that provide end-to-end protection with the rising volume of data and threats penetrating IT environments.”

Warburg has more than $43-billion in private equity assets under management, with an active portfolio of more than 180 companies. It invested more than US$100-million in Ottawa enterprise software company Assent Compliance Inc. late last year.

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