Invincea, a cybersecurity company that started out at George Mason University, has grown plenty in recent years, more than tripling its head count during the past three years.
But the company is now bracing for a far more significant expansion.
Last week, it announced a partnership with Dell that will see its software come pre-installed on the technology giant’s computers, primarily targeted at commercial businesses and public-sector organizations.
In the first year, Invincea officials say, they expect its subscription-based service to be installed on more than 20 million computers.
The growth comes as concerns about cybersecurity become ever more present. Invincea produces a kind of virtual container for browsers and other applications that replicate the functions of traditional software. The virtual versions can detect risky activity, and if they are attacked, the original software is protected.
The Fairfax-based company is now up to about 75 employees and last month opened an office in Arlington, which is home to its Invincea Labs unit, an advanced research and development group.
Anup Ghosh, the company’s founder, is a former project manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and started the company at George Mason. In 2009, the technology firm gained venture financing, moving it from research and development to selling its product.
While it got its start working primarily with federal customers, Invincea is now transitioning to more commercial work. Its customers include finance, oil and gas and defense contracting firms. Ghosh says Invincea is also seeing opportunities in health care as hospitals and other organizations seek to protect health records.
“These are companies where the business pain [of breaches] is so high that they’re going to new approaches in security,” he said.
The company has also expanded and improved its technology. Ghosh said an earlier version worked best on new computer models and could affect performance on older machines as it drew on their memory. He said Invincea has refined the technology to no longer take a toll on performance.
The company’s first product was a virtual browser. But as malware has shifted from e-mailed links to attachments, the company has expanded its technology to work with PDF Reader and the Microsoft Office suite, such as Excel documents.
The Dell deal promises to dramatically accelerate the company’s growth.
In its announcement last week, Dell said it has dubbed its Invincea-powered tool “DDP Protected Workspace.” When customers buy certain types of Dell computers, they’ll get a one-year subscription to the service.
Brett Hansen, Dell’s executive director for end-user computing, said the IT giant is focusing on improving security because companies are increasingly seeing significant costs associated with breaches and data loss.
Ghosh said the deal will help Invincea sell to companies with five to 500 employees, a market that typically requires a larger sales staff, and give it global reach.
The agreement is nonexclusive, and Invincea is hoping that other computer manufacturers opt to include this type of technology.
“I think the other guys are going to have to respond,” said Ghosh. “We’re hoping they call us.”