Carbonite has announced it will acquire Webroot as part of an effort to meld data protection and endpoint security, in a deal valued at $618.5 million.
Norman Guadagno, senior vice president of marketing for Carbonite, said the goal is to create a common set of agents for the two companies that will kick off a backup process whenever a threat such as ransomware is detected.
The acquisition of Webroot is not the first time an attempt has been made to bring a provider of data protection and endpoint security together. Those efforts historically have been met with mixed success. But Guadagno said a variety of recent events, coupled with the fact that both companies focus on small-to-medium businesses (SMBs), make it much more likely this effort will succeed.
On a technical level, efforts to shift the control plane for providing data protection and endpoint security are now simultaneously moving into the cloud. Not only will this enable companies to provide these services more cost effectively at scale, but over time each of these services will be infused with machine learning algorithms, which require access to massive amounts of data to create the artificial intelligence (AI) models to automate processes, said Guadagno.
In addition, Guadagno noted that in many SMB environments, the decision to deploy data protection and endpoint security technologies is typically made by the same team. Previous attempts to unify data protection and endpoint security have been focused on enterprise IT organizations, where typically different teams are responsible for data protection and endpoint security. Getting those teams to approach data protection and endpoint security collaboratively creates a cultural challenge that often can be too difficult to overcome, he said.
Finally, the rise of ransomware has risen awareness of the critical role data protection now plays in cybersecurity, Gaudagno noted. Because most ransomware is delivered via a phishing attack that fools end users into loading malware on to their endpoints, the only effective means of combating ransomware threats is to make sure a pristine copy of an organization’s data is always available. Given the amount of data that now resides on endpoints, backup processes need to be continuous to ensure no critical data is lost. That issue is becoming even more acute: As phishing attacks become more sophisticated, they are being targeted at specific individuals who are likely to have some of an organization’s most sensitive data on their PC or mobile device, such as chief finance officers (CFOs), he said.
Webroot generated $215 million in revenue in fiscal 2018, which reflects both the level of competition in the cybersecurity space and the fact that most SMBs tend not to allocate many budget dollars to cybersecurity. But as more SMB organizations look to address cybersecurity issues, it’s probable many will look to extend as much of the investments they already make in areas such as data protection to address what has clearly become a pressing issue.