Cybersecurity Training Platform Hack the Box Raises $55 Million

Hack the Box, a startup that uses a gamified approach to cultivate ethical hackers has raised $55 million in funding to expand its business after the platform attracted 1.7 million users.

In the field of computer hacking, there’s been a long-standing divide between those taking a malicious approach to it and ethical hackers who wish to gain a better insight into system vulnerabilities and help fix them while also working to combat malicious actors.

The funding round is led by Carlyle, with:

  • Marathon Venture Capital
  • Paladin Capital Group
  • Osage University Partners
  • Endeavor Catalyst Fund, and
  • Brighteye Ventures

All participating. While the UK startup hasn’t disclosed its current valuation, according to PitchBook, it’s raised just over $24 million since its founding in 2017, with around $15 million in equity.

The company, which has roots in Greece and offices in England and New York, now claims it raised $70 million in total.

Its last valuation from 2021, right after the company raised $10 million, was $52 million, a modest amount because of the scale of the company’s impressive accomplishments.

With a member base of 1.7 million, the platform attracts individuals who join on their own to learn or perfect skills and get certifications, as well as universities, enterprises, governments, and other groups that use the platform to train their teams.

According to the company, it operates 450 “hacking labs” across over 300 machines. Its similarity to companies like Kahoot (a different environment, corporate training, and K-12 education) is in using gamification that can transform learning and development.

At Hack the Box, the gamification of the learning process includes simulations with avatars and narrative scenarios that mimic real-life cyber attacks of varying complexity.

There’s also a “pro lab” tier simulating typical network environments, such as Active Directory or fully-patched environments, to train users on different attacks and approaches to common enterprise tools and scenarios.

The scenarios simulated by the platform include penetration testing, evading endpoint protections, and misconfiguration, among other situations thrown at the users.

Hack the Box also offers a careers platform for ethical hackers

In addition to its training platform for companies and individuals, Hack the Box offers a careers platform where ethical hackers can look for work or apply for a job listing made by a company.

Hack the Box isn’t the only company using a gamified approach to cyber training. In conjunction with U.S. government organizations, US Cyber Games also offers its players the ability to identify and train as ethical hackers and a service similar to HTB’s careers platform.

Other companies like Phished, Immersive Labs, and SafeTitan offer various approaches for both technical teams and employees to help raise awareness. HTB doesn’t address the awareness-raising aspect, but it might expand into that area in the future.

In a statement, CEO and co-founder, Haris Pylarinos, said:

Our mission is to create and connect cyber-ready humans and organizations through highly engaging hacking experiences that cultivate out-of-the-box thinking

He further went on to say,

The game in cyber has changed, with defensive, reactive, and recovery postures not being fit-for-purpose in the face of an ever-increasing and ever-evolving wave of sophisticated attacks. A new proactive offensive & defensive approach is needed to take the fight to cybercriminals rather than waiting to be hit

He ended by saying,

From individual security professionals to companies, this means adopting a ‘hacker mindset,’ learning to think and act like an attacker. This is the kind of mindset that we cultivate through Hack The Box

With the post-COVID-19 shift in the remote work environment and the increasing number of cyber attacks since 2021, various private companies, governments, and even cybersecurity professionals approach the future of cybersecurity with a sense of urgency.

That’s why it’s not surprising that investors want to fund platforms like HTB at a time when funding is increasingly harder to come by. Constantin Boye, a director at Carlyle, said in a statement:

The demands on security and IT professionals have never been greater. An industry-wide talent shortage and an exponentially growing number of cyber threats place great importance on professionals and organizations to maintain best-in-class security practices

With that, he went on to say,

Hack The Box is a pioneer in constantly providing fresh and curated training and upskilling content in a fully gamified and intuitive environment, enabling individuals and organizations to tackle real-world hacking problems. We are excited for the next stage of Hack The Box’s evolution and are proud to be part of this journey.

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