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Addressing and identifying threats to safeguard employees with Proofpoint

Addressing and identifying threats to safeguard employees with Proofpoint

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As cybercriminals have upped their game by advancing their level of attacks, security leaders have been feeling the pressure to do the same and protect their infrastructure. Sawan Joshi, Head of Information Security, FirstPort, tells us how the company utilised Proofpoint’s solution to address identified gaps and risks in today’s cybersecurity landscape and ultimately, strengthen its security posture.

More than 90% of targeted attacks start with email — and these threats are always evolving. Proofpoint Targeted Attack Protection (TAP) helps customers stay ahead of attackers with an innovative approach that detects, analyses and blocks advanced threats before they reach users’ inboxes. This includes ransomware and other advanced email threats delivered through malicious attachments and URLs, zero-day threats, polymorphic malware, weaponised documents and phishing attacks. TAP also detects threats and risks in cloud apps, connecting email attacks related to credential theft or other attacks.

Sawan Joshi, Head of Information Security, FirstPort, discusses the solution and its benefits in more detail

Can you provide an overview of FirstPort and your role at the company?

FirstPort is one of the UK’s leading full-service residential property managers. With over four decades of experience, it cares for 232,000 homes in England, Wales and Scotland across 4,200 developments.

FirstPort is a member of the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), the Association of Retirement Housing Managers (ARHM), and Property Managers Association Scotland (PMAS). It holds a five-star rating from the British Safety Council, has been awarded the British Safety Council’s prestigious Sword of Honour, is an accredited Safe Agent and belongs to The Property Ombudsman. FirstPort holds a Silver Investors in People accreditation and has been named as one of the UK’s Top Employers by the Top Employers’ Institute for the last two consecutive years.

My role as Head of Information Security is first and foremost to ensure we keep our customer and business data safe. I also contribute to supporting the business to provide the best possible service for our customers to make their home lives easier.

What was the driver behind selecting Proofpoint and what security challenges were you looking to overcome?

A huge part of managing information security for an organisation is to consistently revisit your security posture on an ongoing basis in order to stay on the front foot of potential cyberattacks and, better yet, stay ahead of them.

Throughout my career, I’ve always been totally vendor-agnostic. It’s the outcome and performance that I look at. Proofpoint offered all of the features I was looking for that were going to address identified gaps and risks in today’s cybersecurity landscape.

During the procurement process, it became clear that Proofpoint had superior features that we needed for our business. Our current relationship is brilliant, the account managers and technical experts are always at hand if we need them and that personal touch is really appreciated.

How would you describe the current cybersecurity landscape?

The landscape is evolving like never before and it will continue to do so year-over-year. Technological innovations are becoming more advanced but so are the cyberthreats.

This year, we have seen a big shift to remote working and while the majority of companies have dealt with this well, there has been a big drive to scale-up technologies to adapt to the new way of working. The rise in remote working has undoubtedly also created a larger attack surface for cybercriminals. This shift means that businesses need to ensure they are safeguarding their employees from potential attacks with comprehensive protections and controls, outside of the usual business perimeters.

In addition, today’s cybercriminal is not just someone in a room on a computer. We are seeing a rise in the likes of advanced threats and organised crime organisations. These guys do research before they launch an attack. They get to know your organisation, your social presence, your colleagues and employees. They get to know who your partners are and who your customers are. They take the time to understand how your business works before launching an attack.

How does the Proofpoint solution mean you can operate with a strong cybersecurity posture?

The Proofpoint solution provides in-depth preventative protection which helps us detect malicious activity. Not only does it provide an incredible SOC which tracks threats at the mail filter level, but it also provides a fantastic response capability to detect and remove threats from mailboxes. This advanced technology also provides reports that gives us the ability to demonstrate ROI to stakeholders, which is key.

What are some of the specific cyber incidents you face in your industry and how can these be tackled?

In our industry, the most common method of cyberattack is the method of impersonation. These types of attacks are particularly tricky as they can be used in myriad ways to trick the intended victim. Over email, a hacker could pretend to be a potential customer, a partner agency, or even someone from a trusted organisation like a bank or government institution.

A key way we combat this is awareness training with our employees, as they are our company’s first line of defence and it’s crucial they stay vigilant to these types of attacks. This educational component needs to be backed by quality incidence response technology, as humans are fallible, and we need to ensure there is technology in place that protects them and the company’s data.

How is FirstPort placed in terms of dealing with evolving future cyberthreats?

As a business that continues to grow, we keep an eye on the evolving security landscape and continually measure our security posture against the current climate to ensure we stay protected.

The rise in remote working means that employees are outside of the usual business perimeter, meaning that cloud security is more important than ever. Security teams need the visibility of how and when their employees are being targeted remotely.

How has Proofpoint’s solution contributed to this preparedness?

Proofpoint has empowered us as a business to ensure that we are always on the front foot when it comes to battling security threats. It provides us with ample information so we can make well-informed decisions based on real-time insights and it gives our team the capacity to plan ahead.

What advice would you offer to other CISOs navigating the current technology landscape?

I would recommend CISOs focus on business impact assessment. They need to identify their assets and perform quantitative risk assessments to truly understand what it would cost the business should these assets be comprised, vs. the cost of buying the technology to protect these assets.

CISOs need to be sure to choose technology that supports and enables their team and streamlines processes.

They should look for automated response technology that can reduce any time dedicated to manual repetitive tasks. This ensures the solution can adapt to changing business scale and allows security teams to focus their efforts on tackling potential threats.

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