The No1. threat vector is “Email”, 99% of threats, hacking has happened by somebody opening a link or clicking on attachment – Interview with Keith Bird – ProofpointNovember 28, 2019
Proofpoint interview with Critic Reviewer
Spokesperson: Keith Bird, Vice President of Northern Europe, Middle East & Africa for Proofpoint
How was GITEX Technology Week 2019 for Proofpoint?
Proofpoint has been in the Middle East for more than 9 years and has recently opened up an office here and have a team in place and which is growing rapidly. So we have been attending GITEX by supporting our partners in the past. This was the first year we had a stand in the exhibition and it is all part of our launch in the Middle East and continuing towards 2020. So we had great interaction with meeting all customers and partners and there was a lot of excitement and we were quite busy for the whole week.
Which are the main market Proofpoint is focusing right now in the Middle East?
Actually, if you look at the threat landscape and customers are facing and under attack right now, it applies to all the markets. The No1. threat vector is “Email”. So about *99% of threats , hacking has happened by somebody opening a link or clicking on attachment and out of that 96% comes through email which applies across all the market in the Middle East. Also, there are people getting scammed or get into wiring money to people who are proposing to be a supplier which actually are supposed to be scammers. So email is one of the most important threats for business in this region.
The big market for Proofpoint is Saudi and UAE and there is also demand in other markets in this region.
Are there any special packages solutions for SMB’s and enterprise?
We have a bundled approach to our solutions, so when the customers are working with us, they take an individual solution or a package of solutions. If you look at what we provide in the market space, we are very well known for email security and email for defense, we also have solutions for customers to protect from social media threat and also cloud perspective. And also provide archiving and online security awareness training.
When you are talking about Individual solutions, do you meaning consumers or business?
Here “Individual” means a single solution or bundles of solutions for business. Our solution to protect the business and business’s biggest assets are the people, so we look at the security of the people in the business. One of the important points, people find very helpful with Proof Point, that we can actually help to identify what we call the “Very Attack People”, VIP in short. The interesting fact about people getting attack is not the “VIPS” like the CEOs, CIOs or the CFOs even those people are targeted as well. Many people who are targeted are 2 or 3 levels down. So it could finance a manager or customer service manager or even an engineer. Anyone who has access to data or intelligence in which a hacker or people want to get access to the company for data.
So when we produce reports of our findings and share with our customers, they find it very surprising with the report and then we prepare and enhance the security around that. Another area we talk to our customers is the first level of defense and that is Security Awareness training. The first level is educating the end-user customers and we have various online security awareness training and by which we could identify which member of the staff requires certain kinds of training.
Can you talk about a case in this region were Proofpoint was able to avoid threat attack on a business?
Most of the companies in this region don’t want to be in reference and so can’t say names. One of the recent cases is of a company that had faced an issue which later became our customer.
The company’s CFO was in the meeting and finance manager of the company got an email from the CFO –“As you know, I am in the meeting with XYZ partner, I forgot to do it, could please wire $150000 to this new supplier with this bank account details.”
The Finance manager looked into the CFO’s calendar and so indeed he was in the meeting with XYZ partner and actually went ahead and wired the money to the said account. Actually what happened, as somebody made an attack into the company database and got access to CFO’s outlook system and they could pretend to be the CFO and were sending emails as the CFO. And as hackers had access to the calendar and they could actually pinpoint when the CFO is going to be in the meeting and not accessible to anybody and also with whom he will busy in the meeting. Which made it sound very credible when they were attacking.
In this example, if this client would have used your solution, would it have been possible to identify the thief or just would have stopped it?
It would just have stopped it. What we are renowned for identifying and stopping people from receiving emails that they are not supposed to receive.
Usually, when people receive an email which they are not supposed to receive and if they open the email, click on the link or open the attachment and they put details where they are not supposed to put in like credit card details, passwords or login details or credentials. The system can get hacked. So with our system protecting, we would have identified the potential threat and would have stopped it.
As mentioned earlier, training employees with Security Awareness Training. One of the things we do during the online training with the employees is internal phishing awareness. Phishing emails are sent across among the employees from an employee email id and see who had opened the email, who has clicked the links or opened the attachment and we generate a report and mention the individual who may be “Serial Clicker” who clicks on everything and need serious training and there are some people in the middle, who sometimes click and sometimes ignore also need training and that is part of our security training to identify and train.
So what I have understood, Proofpoint trains the employees, provides the software to protect the business and what else proof point provides the solution for the business?
We also secure the customer in terms of the Social Media world. For example: In LinkedIn, somebody impersonating as the company and we can help with that challenge of identifying. Or the bigger challenge is like a company is dealing with another company thinking they are dealing with another reputed brand company which actually they are not, that domain has been spoofed and that can severely affect brand reputation. So if you are an airline or bank and you don’t want the consumers to go to a website which looks like airlines website and making transaction for paying for holiday which consumers think it is airline website and they turn up at the airport for the flight and even though it was not the company fault as the hackers have spoofed their domain and that would affect the brand reputation.
Another example is specifically around cloud applications where there are hundreds and thousands application and we have cloud-based protection application and we have CASB solution which protects cloud applications.
And we also have Archiving solutions which are a big thing in the middle east and we provide the solution to existing and prospection customers. For example: in the past customers have lost past emails and data and we provide an archiving solution that is linked with the email solutions which actually backs the email as well, so should something happen at least they the backup emails. So that gives them a full-proof platform solution.
*Please note: Correction of 94% to 99% email threats has been done as per Proofpoint request.