CYBER WARS: How Mimecast is mitigating the cyber threat

When Mimecast opened its Australian office in July 2013 to formalise its market presence, the company had just seven local employees. Today, Mimecast Australia has more than 60 and is continuing to rapidly expand. Country Manager Nicholas Lennon speaks with Business First about the growth of the business and why cloud security is more important than ever before.

The world is under threat. We’re not talking overt acts of terrorism here, more the covert kind.

Hacks that threaten the well- being of businesses and reach deep down into private details that could bring a company to its knees.

You’d be living under a rock if you haven’t come across the latest mega-hack: the release of a cache of internal documents indicating that HBO’s email system has been at least partially compromised.

The hackers are demanding a ransom for the material they are yet to release, while HBO is conducting a “forensic review” to figure out the extent of the problem.

The stolen HBO data allegedly includes scripts, episode summaries and marketing materials for Game of Thrones (GOT). It could also include unaired episodes of GoT as well as other network shows, like Ballers and Room 104. Hackers have threatened to release the entire GoT season. Meanwhile, Leslie Cohen, HBO’s vice president for film programming, had about a month’s worth of emails stolen.

It is said that this is a bigger breach than the Sony hack of 2014, when a group calling itself GOP or The Guardians of Peace, hacked their way into Sony Pictures, leaving the network crippled for days. Valuable insider information including previously unreleased films were stolen as well as the personal information of stars and executives.

We are aware of the GoT and Sony sagas because these are leading organisations and GoT just happens to be one of the most popular shows on television.

However, should these high profile cyberattacks be of concern to small businesses? Relatively speaking their data is just as important as major conglomerates and if hacked, these businesses could be crippled beyond repair.

Suffice to say, cybersecurity is now a major challenge companies face in running their business.

Mimecast (whose US brand ambassador was sometime Sony star Jeremy Piven of Entourage fame – check out his Mimecast videos on YouTube), is one fast start-up looking to help keep your business safe.

Mimecast delivers security, archiving and continuity cloud services to protect business email and deliver comprehensive email risk management in a fully- integrated subscription service.

Thus far, its best-of-breed services have protected the emails of more than 27,300 customers and their millions of users worldwide against targeted attacks, data leaks, malware and spam.

All the while, Mimecast is dedicated to ensuring a company’s email continues to run in the event of a primary service outage.

Australian Country Manager Nicholas Lennon views Mimecast as “a true tech start-up that was designed as a pure play cloud service and allows for rapid innovation.

“In the early days there was an incredible sense of ambition and we learnt rapidly about what the market required, which informed how the product evolved.”

Lennon, who started with Mimecast in 2007 as a Channel Sales Manager in London, where the company is headquartered, had worked his way through the company channels to now lead the Australian division. Lennon pins Mimecast’s growth down to three key values: strong channel model; increased value and utilisation that customers can get out of the Mimecast continuous delivery; and a legendary customer experience team that ensures Mimecast clients get the most value out of the services of which they have subscribed.

Underpinning these values is the company’s approach to innovation in the space.

Mimecast’s CEO fraud tool, Impersonation Protect is case in point.

According to Lennon, Impersonation Protect has been “heavily adopted” by Australian customers as they further expose their businesses to the cloud by embracing Office 365 and other cloud applications as everyday business platforms.

More recently it released Internal Email Protect. This conducts additional security checks on journaled and outbound email traffic and allows businesses to alert and/or remedy threats or suspicious traffic. Problematically, these problems occur due to malicious or careless insider behaviour.

Lennon says that innovation is at the heart of what Mimecast has always done and has been the driving force behind delivering services to its initial 100 clients, to now delivering more evolved services to over 27,300 clients.

At the heart of that delivery has always been the question of how to diminish risks around security such as Spam, viruses and now advanced threats, whilst ensuring users remain productive.

When Mimecast looked to Australia as its fourth operational region, Lennon put his hand up to lead.

“I decided to come back to Australia, build a team in Melbourne as we already had long term Mimecasters – our CISO and Technical Director are based here. Additionally, we built out a local support and customer experience team before investing in local data centers to ensure

Australia customers received a local service from a global partner.” Of course, the needs of the Australian market are much the same globally, so Lennon had a wealth of experience when he took on the challenge in 2013.

The goal of course was to deploy services that make email safer for ANZ businesses and help clients from all verticals to address the risk from advanced threats, email downtime and email data loss.

The adoption of Mimecast services over the last four years has been strong.

“We have clients ranging from SMB to Enterprises with 80,000 to 100,000 users and the fact that Australia has such a strong GDP, means it is highly targeted by criminals looking to use ransomware. This is the reason why there has been such strong adoption of cloud services and our ability to help clients mitigate risks has been well received.”

With the increased adoption has come an interesting shift in requirement: a move from security to cyber resilience.

“Looking beyond cybersecurity, how can businesses remain productive if they experience an outage with their public cloud email provider?,” Lennon asks.

This journey has thus shifted. Whilst security is still important, cyber resilience has also become a consideration.

Attacks on email systems will continue to evolve, and despite best efforts of an organization, they will sometimes be successful. Cyber resilience is an organization’s capacity to adapt and respond to adverse cyber events – whether the events are external or internal, malicious or unintentional – in ways that maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of whatever data and service are important to the organization.

“Organisations have an obligation to their clients to remain productive,” Lennon says.

Much of Mimecast’s product suite is now built around cyber resilience; getting a threat into a singular globally used platform, with layered security and education and training attached.

Employees are the last line of defence. Through continuous training and education, you can train employees to help identify suspicious email content and/or senders, helping to create a human firewall that can play a strong part in defending data.

To help businesses to become more aware, Mimecast recently partnered with PhishMe to integrate their expansive security educational content to help organizations improve employee awareness of common email- borne attacks. This partnership provides customers with enhanced cyber resilience against the latest spear-phishing, ransomware, and impersonation attacks.

Mimecast looks to always have one eye on how it can innovate and improve customer service and services. This has been embedded in the culture of the organisation from the start.

The customer experience is vital to Mimecast’s success and customer feedback has been responsible for products such as Impersonation Protect.

“We listen to our customers, engage with them and therefore have high retention rate,” Lennon says.

“Client engagement is a core part of what we do. Our client managers will work to deliver value and solve tomorrow’s problems. Overall our success is down to our products, our clients’ abilities to use those products themselves and our strong customer team.”

With 75% of organisations looking at cloud-based solutions to mitigate security risks, the industry will no doubt continue to grow and Mimecast will look to stay ahead of other service providers through agility, innovation and service.

In a market globally worth tens of billions in SMB to large enterprise and government contracts, Mimecast’s ability to stick to its culture will be paramount in its future growth.

Lennon is focused on rapid ANZ growth, understanding evolving challenges across all verticals and ensuring customers get the best service driven by a strong culture.

“We have highly ambitious people in our organisation who recognise they are empowered to make meaningful decisions that attract long-term customers.”

With that attitude, Mimecast is well positioned to help companies avoid GoT-like incursions, whilst claiming its own iron throne in innovative service delivery.

Business First is a peer-to-peer magazine: written by CEOs and other high level executives, with interviews with some of the country’s best leaders.

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