Mimecast doubles down on Australian investment as whaling, Office 365 drive customers to cloud security

Strong growth in the Australian operations of cloud-based security vendor Mimecast has validated the company's decision to invest heavily in expanding its local operations and headcount, the company's local country manager has said while reporting strong growth on the back of customer concerns about securing Microsoft's Office 365 productivity suite as well as fighting targeted attacks and 'whaling' fraud.

Mimecast opened its Australian office in in July 2013 to formalise a market presence that had previously been managed by partners, subsequently partnering with Nuix for a large-scale email migration system and opening dual NSW data centres to boost local capacity and response time.

With the number of local channel partners doubling in the last 12 months – and significant customer wins including home designer Porter Davis, book publisher Penguin Random House, fashion store Forever New and healthcare organisation Calvary Health – Mimecast has recently seen “fairly significant growth”, country manager Nicholas Lennon told CSO Australia.

That growth had proved strong enough to support a further strategic investment in the region. Announced in late August, that investment has significantly expanded the Melbourne office and opened a Sydney office; together, the two support a headcount of 40 people – up from just seven employees in 2013.

Some 40 percent of those employees are technical, Lennon said – reflecting the demand for value-added solutions and rapid customer support. This support capability is also being extended to global customers by positioning the Melbourne office as the fourth location in the company's global 'follow-the-sun' customer-service network.

“We've seen significant growth across all regions and all categories,” Lennon said, attributing the interest to customer recognition that cloud-based security tools offer more rapid response to new and changing threats as they morph. “Innovation is critical when it comes to email security,” he said. “The types of attacks that organisations deal with are moving quickly, and what's going to impact people in 6 months' time may not be known now.

We have, for example, seen an increase in attacks that don't have malware but socially engineer communications using LinkedIn or Internet data to impersonate a senior executive.” Such whaling attacks have costed businesses over $US2.3 billion in the last 3 years, according to an FBI report released earlier this year.

Experts blame time-poor and unquestioning employees who often share too much personal information online, providing a cornucopia of information that cybercriminals can use to tailor whaling and phishing attacks that have been frighteningly successful.

Mimecast's anti-whaling tool, Impersonation Protect, has been “heavily adopted” by Australian customers, Lennon said, particularly as they more actively expose their businesses to the cloud by embracing Office 365 and other cloud applications as everyday business platforms. “In the last 12 months we've really seen a move from cyber security to cyber resilience,” Lennon said.

“Customers recognise they may get attacked and owned at some point in time, which really brings the continuity and archiving story into play. These areas are contributing to the growth we've seen globally, and are very strong in the local Australian market.”

With room to spare in its newly expanded Southbank, Melbourne regional headquarters, staff growth is a key priority for Lennon as the company continues working to stay on top of a local market that is likely to be increasingly driven by compliance, security, and business-continuity objectives. With Australian breach notification legislation seemingly inevitable and set to boost expectations around data protection and governance, securing the cloud will be increasingly crucial in the long term.

Gartner recently predicted that the need to prevent data breaches from public clouds will drive 20 percent of organisations to develop data-security governance programs by 2018.

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