Estonian startup BotGuard raises €500K to fight malicious bots

Tallinn-based BotGuard, a unique cloud-based service, is on a mission to revolutionize the field of cyber security, and has just landed €500K to do so.

Founded in 2019, BotGuard enables website owners to fight malicious software bots, eliminating the need for CAPTCHA’s distorted images to distinguish computers from humans. 

BotGuard can be integrated into any website, using a simple plug-in. It monitors the traffic coming to the page and forwards any suspicious requests to the BotGuard server. Its algorithms analyse the information received, filtering out malicious bots, while allowing regular visitors to enter the site without unnecessary extra steps.

Until now, the main methods of distinguishing between machine and human users on websites have been the IP address-based firewall, which may block a visitor because they are using a VPN, and the CAPTCHA technology, which makes the user decipher a puzzle. Thanks to BotGuard, this is no longer necessary. Bot detection is done by default in the background, letting honest users enter the site with less hassle.

According to BotGuard’s co-founder, Nik Rosenberg, previously, only large companies have been able to afford effective anti-bot cyber security solutions, with monthly fees amounting to tens of thousands of euros, but now: “BotGuard’s cloud service could give SMEs the opportunity to protect their website from bad bots for only a few euros a month.”

Experts estimate that up to 50% of today’s web traffic comes from bots. Some of those are good – such as search engines and monitoring or payment systems. However, other bots are clearly malicious, copying website content, sending spam, trying to steal from users’ accounts and carry out other unwanted activities. That leaves a further class of bots that a website owner would prefer to manage in a rule-based manner: this monitoring and management of bot-generated web visits is exactly what BotGuard offers.

There are many different ways to misuse information using bots, which cause harm and inconvenience to the website owner, but are not always illegal in nature. One example is that software bots can remove a competitor’s inventory from the stock or e-store circulation, without actual purchases; the goods are added to a shopping cart, but never confirmed or paid for, blocking other customers from buying the goods. This also applies to many reservation systems, such as airline tickets, hotel rooms, holiday packages, restaurants, etc. Manipulation of Google’s search engine is common. During a search, a bot can cause information on a competitor’s website to be copied to a number of fake websites, resulting in the loss of an important parameter for Google’s search engine – uniqueness”, Rosenberg explains.

BotGuard recently raised €500K in a seed round led by Estonia’s leading venture capital company, Tera Ventures. The investments were mainly from well-known and established international business angels in the field of cyber security, as well as industry experts from Sweden, Israel, the USA and elsewhere, including Per Björklund, Stefan Lindeberg and Håkan Saltin.

Stanislav Ivanov, Founding Partner of Tera Ventures, acknowledges that BotGuard solves a globally important problem: “The Internet is playing an increasingly important role in our daily lives and in how societies function, which is why the issue of cyber security and information protection is undoubtedly one of the most important questions today. We were impressed by BotGuard’s unique, deep approach to the problem, the strong background and competence of the team and their understanding of how the field works. I can’t think of any good reason why a website owner wouldn’t use BotGuard today.”

After testing the beta version for six months, BotGuard launched its first official version in July, which has already been integrated into thousands of websites around the world. “Our mission is to change the cyber security landscape and customary business culture by providing bot control and protection for all website owners, regardless of the size of their wallet. Whether we are talking about a company website, blog, or personal website, everyone should be able to protect their important information easily and affordably”, concluded Rosenberg.

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