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The word for 2015: “Cybersecurity”

Staff members sit at their work stations at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Virginia, January 13, 2015.Photograph by Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

If “plastics” was the word for 1967, “cybersecurity” may be it for 2015. In the age of the mega-hack, companies are scrambling to protect themselves. And that has spawned a bewildering array of products and services for cyber protection. Tanium yesterday jumped to the head of the pack, closing a $120 million fundraising that left it with a value of $3.5 billion — overshooting by a billion our report earlier this month that it would hit $2.5 billion.

That’s a huge number. But unlike many of the new unicorns, whose billion-dollar-plus valuations seem filled with helium, Tanium is a real business. The company, founded in 2007 by a father-son team of David and Orion Hindawi, has been cash-positive since 2012 and funded most of its growth with its own money. It claims to have half the Fortune 100 as its client base. It is raising the new money now not because it needs it, but rather to take advantage of the current funding environment and build a cash reserve for future growth.

The company doesn’t promise to keep hackers out. Rather, its service does real-time scans of millions of computers, spots intrusions or bugs, and deploys a patch or quarantines the problem within seconds.

When we surveyed Fortune 500 CEOs earlier this year, the rapid pace of technological change emerged as the top challenge facing their companies. But cyber security was number two. No surprise some new fortunes are being made on that anxiety.

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