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Egnyte kindles SaaS with enterprise ransomware protection

Egnyte introduces new ransomware protection for all SaaS subscribers. Features include protection at all tiers and new recovery services for the top-tier service.

Egnyte expanded its ransomware protection and recovery features to all SaaS subscribers, protecting against 2,000 known threats, and introduced one-click restoration for its enterprise tier customers.

Egnyte executives introduced new features for its content management software during the keynote at the company's virtual Egnyte Exchange 2021 summit Tuesday, and boasted of new ransomware protections that would eliminate the need for customers to rely on third-party vendors for security. The features will be generally available by the end of the month.

All tiers of subscribers will now have access to the software's signature-based ransomware detection, which can identify and protect user files from more than 2,000 known types of ransomware signatures. Additional signatures, or patterns of malicious activity, are crowdsourced daily and are included in the service at no additional cost. All users also have access to file versioning as a protective measure so that they can revert their files in case of an attack. The Egnyte client can also lock out users who upload corrupted files into the service and alert customer IT teams as a feature for all subscribers.

For enterprise-tier subscribers, Egnyte introduced two new ransomware protection features. The first protects against unsigned, zero-day ransomware attacks by flagging abnormal user behavior detection and using other data integrity features to alert IT teams of a possible attack.

The second is a new automated rollback service in case of a successful ransomware attack. Enterprise-tier subscribers will be able to revert to recent snapshots from before the attack with "one click," without having to set up restore configurations ahead of time and while maintaining all prior file permissions and access rules, according to Ramin Farassat, chief strategy and product officer at Egnyte.

Other, smaller updates to the Egnyte product for all subscribers unveiled at the event included new support for encrypting files originating from MacOS systems, digital watermarking for files, customizable warnings for users about to send sensitive information and governance tools for Google S3 cloud storage, as well as Google Workspace.

Old product, new tricks

Egnyte's primary product is an enterprise content management SaaS offering file storage, collaboration and versioning utilities through private clouds, enabling customers to adhere to regional data regulations and controls. Backup storage on public clouds is also available for purchase as part of Egnyte's premium tiers.

The company is one of the oldest in the space, founded in 2007, and competes with other file collaboration SaaS products such as Box, Dropbox and Citrix ShareFile. IT departments can use Egnyte to view structured or unstructured files from any data warehouse within their networks, such as email attachments, use policies and controls to lock down sensitive documents or secure them against malware.

The new ransomware protection features were among the most requested by the company's 1,600 customers, Farassat said.

"We're dealing with customers that don't have lots of IT staff," he said. "They don't have the ability to deal with the changes in the [security] landscape."

The new automatic ransomware recovery feature should also allow enterprise subscribers to save money by eliminating the need for an additional third-party backup snapshot service, Farassat said.

Analysts and consultants said the expanded ransomware features and protections for all Egynte customers were good additions, but caution against relying solely upon a lone vendor's promises for a protection strategy.

These new security features continue to position Egnyte further into the data protection market in addition to general data management, said Holly Muscolino, a research vice president on content strategies and the future of work at IDC.

"Recently, Egnyte has been focused on repositioning itself as a security solution, rather than a content services solution, though content security is still at the core of its offerings," Muscolino said. "From the content sharing and collaboration perspective, Egnyte has always been known as a smaller player focused on security, so to some degree, the other larger players in this market have been catching up with them from a security perspective."

But relying on just one vendor for file security and integrity is "incredibly rash" and not a good practice for IT teams, according to Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting.

The new ransomware protections and restoration features are good additions but only part of a full cyber resiliency strategy, Staimer said.

"Ransomware and malware defense requires multiple layers of defense, not one," Staimer said. "No single product is fool proof and a guarantee against ransomware -- no matter how good it's scanning."

A data hard hat for site work

Spencer Mains, IT director at Environmental Science Associates (ESA) and a speaker at Egnyte Exchange, said the collaboration features and file access speed of the service have increased his company's productivity.

ESA is an environmental consulting agency headquartered in San Francisco operating 21 offices across the southern and western parts of the United States with a headcount of several hundred employees.

What's vital for us is to avoid a situation like ransomware.
Spencer MainsIT director of Environmental Science Associates

The company, which opened 50 years ago, has maintained digital archives for 30 years, according to Mains. Keeping those documents available, as per many legal regulations, is a key priority.

"Being able to govern that process becomes an increasing challenge for us," Mains said. "What's vital for us is to avoid a situation like ransomware."

Employees frequently work with clients in the field while sharing confidential documents, Mains said. Securing those documents in the proper channels used to take around a half hour daily but now takes a few minutes with Egnyte.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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