Attackers Targeting People as Workloads Move to the Cloud, Says Proofpoint CEO

May 20

“The reality is that attackers are targeting people,” says Proofpoint CEO Gary Steele. “They’ve done it traditionally on email but it’s expanding as more and more applications or workloads are running in the cloud. That’s where people are and that’s where they can be targeted. The point when people migrate to the cloud is a very important point where companies reconsider their security strategy.”

Gary Steele, CEO of Proofpoint, discusses how the migration of companies to the cloud is significantly impacting security in an interview on CNBC:

Attackers Targeting People as Workloads Move to the Cloud

The reality is that attackers are targeting people. They’ve done it traditionally on email but it’s expanding as more and more applications or workloads are running in the cloud. That’s where people are and that’s where they can be targeted. So we’re excited about our announcement of an acquisition last week called Meta Networks. It gives us the ability to help companies control the access of their employees and it fits naturally with this broader cloud strategy that we’ve been rolling out.

The point when people migrate to the cloud is a very important point where companies reconsider their security strategy. Traditionally it was the perimeter that controlled everything. Today there really isn’t a perimeter as more and more of these apps and workloads end up in the cloud. One of the things that we liked about this new acquisition of Meta Networks is that one compromised person can’t bring the whole network down. You can really control the access for every single person. That’s a natural complement of how we think about securing the cloud.

Key Driver For Our Business is Broad Migration To the Cloud

One of the key drivers for our business has been this broad migration to the cloud and specifically to Office 365. We’ve been benefiting as organizations reconsidered their on-premise strategy and think about the cloud. Office 365 is an important way for them to go and they need additional security controls than what Microsoft’s providing today and we’re helping those customers be successful in a Microsoft environment. It’s pretty clear that there’s a lot going on globally. The geopolitical environment is very much at unrest and when those times happen you see a lot more global threat activity. As a result, that bodes well for our business over time, unfortunately.

Broadly one of the philosophies we’ve had as a company is to have a strong ecosystem to make it easier for customers to digest all that security infrastructure. It’s everybody from an Okta, which we announced a relationship in the Fall, to relationships that we’ve had for a long time like Palo Alto Networks. We have basically done the technical integration between our products to make it out-of-the-box easy for our customers. We have many customers running on the broader G Suite and we support that just like we support Office 365.

Threat Actors Taking Over Your Email Has Phenomenal Implications

The one big theme and we’ve been seeing it for a while now, it’s been almost a year, but it’s really important, is threat actors taking over people’s email accounts. Think about someone owning your email account being able to send email as you. That has phenomenal implications. So we’re helping companies today identify that, remediate those kinds of events, and be safer as they move to Office 365 or Google for that matter.

The primary threat actor that we’re seeing there is a threat actor group out of West Africa. But we do see it broadly used and employed by a range of threat actors. Two-factor authentication is a good start (to prevent this threat). Then we can obviously help detect and remediate.

Attackers Targeting People as Workloads Move to the Cloud, Says Proofpoint CEO Gary Steele

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