Cybera targets security threat at gas stations

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — In an era when nearly every company worries about online security threats, Franklin-based Cybera Inc. is finding its services are in high demand.

When the company was launched in 2001, CEO and co-founder Cliff Duffey struggled to find interested investors. Twelve years later, Cybera has a stable of major clients and has grown to 90 employees.

Much of that success can be attributed to the company’s cloud-based security platform, Cybera One. The system is sold primarily to merchants in the retail and restaurant industries, and Cybera has had particular success landing contracts to get its systems into gas stations across the country.

Most notably, Shell Oil Co. will install Cybera systems at its 14,300 branded store locations by the end of 2013. Duffey said the company reached a similar agreement with ExxonMobil and has been rolling out its systems at the oil giant’s retail locations during the past 12 to 15 months.

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Duffey declined to disclose the company’s 2012 revenue; Cybera reported revenue of $22 million in 2011. He declined to predict exactly how much Cybera expected to earn from its deal with Shell, but once all its systems are installed, the $79-a-month charge retailers pay will add up to more than $13 million annually.

Cybera One uses broadband Internet, as opposed to the satellite-based connections many gas stations use for processing payments.

When satellite connections disconnect, opportunities for fraud arise because many satellite-based systems authorize transactions while the network is offline, then submit them for approval after the network reconnects.

In extreme cases, criminals have reportedly stolen fuel by using aluminum-foil strips to interrupt rooftop satellite feeds at gas stations.

By using broadband connections and 3G/4G wireless as a backup to maintain a connection, Duffey said, the company is able to make committing fraud much more difficult.

Growth industry

Cybera is one of several companies looking to capitalize on the growing data security industry, said David Fish, an analyst at the research firm Mercator Advisory Group.

While the company offers a variety of security and network services, Cybera One has “become the bread-and-butter for all of our growth today,” Duffey said.

Last year, the company sold about 6,000 new systems, a 200percent increase from 2011, Duffey said. He expects a similar increase for 2013.

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As it’s landed larger contracts with companies that have a global presence, Cybera is beginning to look at opportunities internationally, Duffey said.

“Building out the entire U.S. is one good step forward,” he said, “but there’s still a whole world for us to go after and securitize.”

The company is primarily venture capital-backed, most recently closing a $4.4 million round of financing last year. Duffey said Cybera may look to raise additional capital as it expands into new countries, but he said there are no concrete plans yet. He also said the company wasn’t focused on creating any exit plans.


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