February 5, 2013

Charleston Anti-Phishing Firm Raises $1.2 million To Fuel Growth

John McDermott

A Charleston-based Internet security business that targets high-tech thievery has raised more than $1 million from outside investors to fund its growth.

PhishLabs said the $1.2 million in venture financing came from a group of backers led by industry veteran Tony Prince.

Prince, operating partner at Charlotte-based Frontier Capital, is former chief executive officer of information technology security firm LURHQ, which was bought by a company that's now part of personal computer giant Dell. He will join PhishLabs' board of directors.

PhishLabs said its clients include large national and international banks, credit unions, electronic commerce companies, service providers and social networking firms.

"This funding will help us accelerate sales and marketing initiatives and continue innovating to stay ahead of market demand, as well as evolving threats," said John LaCour, PhishLabs founder and CEO.

The company takes its name from a growing form of online larceny called "phishing," in which a crook creates an authentic-looking but fake email from a bank, airline or other online business with password-protected accounts. Victims then typically click on a link that takes them to another bogus website where they are instructed to enter their personal information, which is collected and used for illicit gains.

Started in 2008, PhishLabs specializes in rooting out and destroying these electronic come-ons and identifying the people and techniques behind them. Its tag line: "Prevent. Defend. Fight back." It's based in the Flagship2 business incubator in downtown Charleston.

"They're a great story," said Ernest Andrade, executive director of the Charleston Digital Corridor, which runs the Flagship2 program.

Prince, whose LinkedIn profile shows he is a University of South Carolina graduate who lives in the Myrtle Beach area, said he likes the "aggressive approach" PhishLabs takes to fighting cyber crimes.

"It is empowering banks and other online businesses to not only defend themselves, but target the attackers directly," he said in a statement. "This innovation, along with the customer excitement and demand it is creating, led to my interest and investment in the company."

**EDITORS NOTE: Phishlabs is one of 6 companies currently at the Flagships that has raised external capital. **