Mimecast Brings Enterprise Email Protection to Office 365

A year after its IPO, Mimecast's platform blocks email security threats and enhances uptime for hundreds of corporate customers.

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Fresh off a major milestone, Mimecast is ramping up its efforts to protect Office 365 customers from attackers whose weapon of choice is email.

The company just celebrated the one-year anniversary of its initial public offering, and mirroring the rise of advanced email threats, business is on a tear. "A couple of things have aligned in an exciting way," Ed Jennings, chief operating officer at the Microsoft Exchange email management and protection specialist, told eWEEK.

Earlier this month, Mimecast reported a 29-percent year-on-year increase in revenue to $44.4 million (GAAP) during its second quarter fiscal 2017. The company also booked 1,900 new customers, bringing the total number of organizations that use its enterprise email products to 21,800.

Both the market for productivity software and the email threat landscape are undergoing major changes, said Jennings.

Pointing out Office 365's brisk growth of about 50,000 new customers a month, Jennings said businesses by the bucket load are "not just licensing, but adopting" Microsoft's cloud-enabled business software platform. Seventeen percent of Mimecast's customers use its offerings with Microsoft Office 365.

Just today, Microsoft announced it had expanded Office 365's availability into 10 new markets, Bhutan, Cambodia, Greenland, Guadeloupe, Laos, Maldives, Martinique, Mozambique, Myanmar and Vatican City, for a total of 150 markets. And the company is eyeing another 97 markets, stated Tom Batcheler, senior product marketing manager for Microsoft Office 365.

Customers that once ran their own Exchange servers and related appliances in their data centers are increasingly "moving that infrastructure to the cloud," he said.

Moving to the cloud can help businesses capitalize on the latest innovations in software, IT infrastructure and data security, but it doesn't immunize them against every threat, he argued. While they may be washing their hands of much of the management burden and cost associated with operating those systems on-premises, they may be inviting other challenges by leaving it up to Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure. (Microsoft also offers security add-ons for its Exchange Online service, it should be noted.)

Whether delivered from Microsoft's cloud or a local Exchange server, business email accounts are under assault.

"Email has come back as the number one threat vector," said Jennings. "It used to be a spam problem," he added, noting that email-borne threats have since multiplied to include "phishing, spear phishing, whaling and now ransomware." In fact, "99 percent of ransomware initiates from an email attack."

To combat this, Mimecast offers a range of email security capabilities dubbed Targeted Threat Protection. The technology scans for suspect URLs and hidden signs that a scammer is behind that convincing email from the CEO requesting sensitive information or a wire transfer. It can also sandbox "weaponized attachments" before they end up in a user's inbox.

Enhanced security aside, Mimecast can help turn Exchange Online outages, like the one that affected many customers in the U.S. this summer, into a non-event. Should an outage strike, Mimecast's email continuity offering continues all delivery operations and automatically syncs with Microsoft's servers when they return, ensuring uninterrupted service. In effect, "our customers never go down" said Jennings.

More offerings are in the works, "beyond just Exchange," hinted Jennings. For now, the company is focused on adding new capabilities and making the existing ones more robust, he said.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...