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Despite the best efforts of security teams and surging investments in cyber, phishing and business email compromise (BEC) attacks are only accelerating — and getting more successful. Proofpoint reports that 83% of organizations experienced a successful email-based phishing attack in 2021, which is a massive jump from 57% in 2020. And 77% of organizations faced BEC attacks last year, up from 65% in 2020, according to Proofpoint data.
Reversing these trends is about more than just training workers to stop opening malicious emails, however. It’s a complex problem, with many sides to consider.
It’s practically unheard-of for a single company to address the problem comprehensively — at least until now, says Rahul Powar. Red Sift, where he is cofounder and CEO, is seeking to be that single company, with its launch today of a domain protection solution to join products that cover both outbound and inbound email security.
Across the three areas where Red Sift now operates, “there are other providers who have different point solutions,” Powar said in an interview. “But the reality is, these problems are very deeply interconnected. And if you treat them as point solutions, then you’ll always be left with an incomplete security offering.”
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Ultimately, what customers require is a “solution that helps you identify the entirety of your digital asset base,” he said — which is what Red Sift specializes in with its technology for ingesting and analyzing millions of data points a day.
The new product, OnDOMAIN, aims to help businesses to rapidly shut down malicious phishing sites. It’s being unveiled today alongside Red Sift’s $54 million series B funding round.
The round was led by Highland Europe, and included backing from Sands Capital, Oxford Capital and MMC Ventures. Red Sift has now raised $69.8 million in funding since its launch in 2015.
A complete solution
OnDOMAIN — which is now in preview and is targeted for general availability in the second quarter — will join Red Sift’s other products that provide security for both outbound email (OnDMARC) and inbound email (OnINBOX). Red Sift, Powar says, is launching the product out of a recognition that securing against phishing attacks is about more than just the emails themselves — and is better addressed with a complete solution.
OnDOMAIN monitors 150 million domains and subdomains that are newly registered each day and examines intelligence from numerous data sources to help determine a domain’s validity, according to Red Sift. The product then enables security teams to rapidly shut down phishing sites with “one-click takedown functionality,” which is made possible by industry partnerships, the company said.
In addition to malicious sites, OnDOMAIN will also discover insecure domains that are legitimate, but were previously unknown, Red Sift said. The product’s capabilities will allow customers to protect their brands and reputations against damage and abuse, according to the company.
Even large, sophisticated organizations have assets that they’re unaware of, Powar said. “They may have a tool that helps them identify and manage all their certificates and all the domains, but that’s not integrated in any meaningful way with their email security posture. So stuff ends up falling through the cracks.”
OnDMARC helps companies to more easily implement DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance), which is a protocol for email authentication, policy and reporting. Implementing the protocol helps to stop email impersonation, ensuring that authorized senders are the only ones that can send emails using a certain domain in the “from” field in an email message.
While the DMARC protocol was published in 2015, just 22% of top retailers, 30% of Fortune 500 domains and 36% of large banks have achieved “full DMARC enforcement” at this point, according to Valimail data.
The reason for modest adoption is that “DMARC has traditionally been a very big consultative project,” Powar said. “It’s been a very difficult project to get done.”
Red Sift’s OnDMARC product aims to make implementing DMARC much easier by bringing automation to the process. OnDMARC “helps organizations implement DMARC — which is unique because of its ability to help protect organizations across their supply chain and network,” Powar said.
“When you deploy DMARC, you’re advertising to the world how they as receivers can verify that the email actually originally came from infrastructure that was authorized by you,” he said. “Plain vanilla email doesn’t give you that by default. And as a result, you’re susceptible to complex supply chain attacks, phishing against your customers, invoice fraud against your supply chain.”
DMARC can tackle a lot of that for the domains that a company controls and owns — because it can give the receivers a way of knowing and verifying that the email actually came from the company, Powar said.
OnINBOX, meanwhile, uses AI and machine learning (ML) — along with a “deep understanding” of the signals that point to a malicious email — to “provide an automatic assessment of whether it’s safe to interact with an email or not,” he said. The solution is meant to complement widely deployed existing email security tools rather than replace them, Powar noted.
Red Sift has expanded its customer base to more than 700, and is looking to double that amount by the end of 2022 with the help of the new funding, he said. Customers include Domino’s Pizza, ZoomInfo, PageGroup, Wise, Telefónica and Rentokil Initial plc.
The company’s revenue doubled in 2021, and is expected to double again this year, Powar said.
Red Sift also expects to double its staff of 80 by the end of this year with the help of the new funding, he said. The London-based company plans to open a U.S. office in Austin, Texas, as part of its expansion this year, Powar said.
Powar — formerly the principal technical architect and a member of the founding team at Shazam — founded Red Sift with CTO Randal Pinto, another Shazam alum who served as the company’s head of program management until 2011. After leaving Shazam in 2008, Powar founded Apsmart and served as its CEO until it was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2012. Pinto also worked at Apsmart, as head of professional services, and both he and Powar spent three years at Thomson Reuters before departing to launch Red Sift in 2015.
The big push for this year will be to expand the OnDOMAIN product in the market, Powar said.
With OnDOMAIN, “we take our knowledge of authentication, and or machine learning models that sit inside OnINBOX, and we apply them to the internet at large,” he said. “So we actually monitor newly observed domains, websites that are spinning up as they’re spinning up in real time, and look for fraud and brand infringement in those assets — so that we can identify phishing attacks even before they launch. So that’s why it slots into the OnDMARC use case quite nicely.”
As another example, OnDOMAIN can help with monitoring key suppliers, Powar said. “The people that your HR team communicates with, we can identify those in OnINBOX, and we can monitor those and in OnDOMAIN,” he said.
The other big problem that OnDOMAIN solves is helping organizations to define their perimeter, Powar said.
“If you’re a large financial services organization, you don’t even know all the assets on the internet that you own. So, it’s very difficult to get them under control,” he said. “OnDOMAIN helps identify all of those things, too, as part of its scanning of the internet at-large.”
All in all, Red Sift stands out in the market with its ability to address some of the toughest challenges in security, Powar said.
“We provide automated, user-centric cybersecurity solutions across a bunch of hard-to-solve problems,” he said. “It’s complicated. And we’re doing it at scale.”
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