Machine Learning Makes Securing Collaboration Platforms Simple for MSPs

Machine Learning Makes Securing Collaboration Platforms Simple for MSPs

By Matthew Vulpis

As the number of channels for communication and collaboration grows, organizations use a mix of tools for business operations. But, for all their benefits, these tools can create challenges. From traditional email services like Outlook and Gmail to cloud messaging, document sharing and collaboration platforms like Teams, Slack, Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive – managing secure access and permissions has become a challenge for the IT teams responsible for protecting data, assets, productivity, and the reputation of their business.

This is one of the drivers leading to the dramatic growth of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) as they, in turn, work their end-customers to monitor and maintain the integrity of essential productivity platforms.

Add to this the sharp rise in the adoption of cloud to support more remote workers, more hybrid working, and more communications happening across a range of mobile devices, and it is fair to say that without automation, machine learning and AI, and other advanced software solutions, it would be impossible to keep intruders from the dark side at bay.

“We hear this every day from the MSPs and other service providers we meet,” said Nick Heddy, Chief Commerce Officer of Pax8. “Our marketplace has grown exponentially across all categories, especially the cybersecurity category, given the volume and velocity of new attacks we are learning about every day. We’ve gone out of our way to find the most effective solutions for our community.”

Pax8 is one of many companies highlighting the latest trends in digital security as part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which has occurred every October since 2004. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in partnership with the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), this year is focusing on what it means to “See Yourself in Cyber” by highlighting the actions that all Americans can take to raise the baseline for cybersecurity across the country.

“It is, in fact, very important that every individual is aware of threats in their work and personal life,” Heddy said, “and smart organizations are giving employees tools that will prevent them from clicking on nefarious links and falling prey to phishing campaigns, and hiring MSPs to have oversight across the entire communications and collaboration landscape with software that is so fine-tuned that potential threats can be caught and stopped quickly.”

Avanan, a Check Point Software Company, has been leading with automation through machine learning and AI in creating cybercrime solutions. In less than five minutes, the company says MSPs can deploy cloud email and collaboration security to stop phishing.

Traditional solutions have taken months or even years to build but, with the growth of the cloud and pools of talented developers who can write programs and build platforms supporting automation, companies like Avanan make it possible for service providers to set up highly secured, private domains for each of their clients, then add endpoints and subscriptions with point-and-click ease.

“Incident Response as a Service has changed everything for the IT industry, for internal IT, but especially for MSPs and MSSPs,” said Mike Lyons, Head of MSP/MSSP & Global Channel, Avanan. “The key is to maintain a comprehensive view of all collaboration offerings while also being on the alert for new threats and sophisticated, equally automated attacks which are funded by deep-pocket cybercrime rings.”

Avanan’s solutions integrate with workplace collaboration suites, like Office 365, G Suite, Slack, and Dropbox, via APIs. Once installed, Avanan detects phishing, malware, and anomalous behavior. It learns communication patterns between users at an organization and their roles.

“We’re built for service providers,” Lyons said, “While we do sell directly to enterprises, a big focus for us is to bring MSPs fully cloud-based offerings, using the Avanan MSP Management Portal, which gives them access to the data they need to manage their clients, with a multi-tenancy.”

Since its founding in 2015, Avanan has been an innovator in machine learning and has patented inline protection, and according to Lyons, it was the first email security company to:

  • Protect the entire collaboration suite
  • Offer an API-based solution that blocks emails inline
  • Implement security for Microsoft Teams
  • Catch what Microsoft and G-Suite miss
  • Implement true machine learning to catch sophisticated attacks

Avanan is also a leader in API solutions and part of fast-growing API and Telco API communities.

“Avanan protects, going beyond what other API-based systems do today – they just respond. Avanan prevents malicious emails from reaching the inbox,” Lyons explained. “Other APIs retract it after the fact, sometimes after as long as five minutes, which can be plenty of time for damage to be done.”

Lyons said Avanan is “inline,” while other similar APIs are not.

“Our solution prevents sensitive data before it leaves and does a full malware analysis for attachments and links and wrap URLs for click-time protection,” says Lyons.

The global threat intelligence security market size is expected to increase by USD 14.03 billion, accelerating at a CAGR of 23.96 percent between 2021 and 2026, according to a recent report published by Technavio. The report expects the market growth to be significant in North America during the forecast period, and increased incidences of cyberattacks on information systems are creating huge growth opportunities for vendors operating in North America.

Globally, roughly 15 billion spam emails make their way across the Internet every day, which means that spam filters are “working overtime” and are liable to permit malicious phishing attack emails to slip through.

In 2021, 83% of organizations reported experiencing phishing attacks. In 2022, an additional six billion attacks are expected to occur. Last year, roughly 214,345 unique phishing websites were identified, and the number of recent phishing attacks has doubled since early 2020.

Thirty percent of phishing emails are opened. This increases the probability of an individual unintentionally clicking on a malicious link or downloading a compelling-looking document that’s laced with malware.

Forty-two percent of workers self-reported having taken a dangerous action (clicked on an unknown link, downloaded a file, or exposed personal data) while online, failing to follow phishing prevention best practices.

With statistics like these, combined with massive investments by cybercriminals who see the value in exfiltrating data, including confidential information, private customer data, and trade secrets, and the rise of ransomware attacks that can destroy businesses, it is no wonder that the demand for more intelligent, automated email and collaboration security solutions is growing, along with opportunities for services providers to help fully protect their customers.

Edited by Erik Linask
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