Intermedia completes move of its large McAfee install base onto its own, revamped platform

Intermedia is formally announcing availability of its new platform, Intermedia Email Protection, which replaces both the end-of-lifed McAfee platform and Intermedia’s legacy Advanced Email Security offering.

Alex Smith, Intermedia’s Director of Security Products

Intermedia has provided an update on the status of the migration of the half million customers it had been serving on the McAfee platform, following its 2012 partnership for the use of the SMB-focused SaaS platform that Intel Security had acquired with the purchase of MXLogic. Following Intel Security’s announcement that platform was being end-of-lifed, Intermedia revamped the legacy platform it had been using before the 2012 deal, and quietly began to migrate the McAfee platform users over. They are now announcing that progress has been completed, and they are now beginning to migrate the users on the legacy Intermedia platform to the new one.

Intermedia was certainly not the only one to be surprised when Intel Security decided to pull the plug on the SaaS security business it had bought into with the acquisition of MXLogic, in order to focus on its enterprise business. However, their partnership, and the approximately half a million mailboxes they had on the McAfee platform required a prompt rethinking of strategy.

“Intermedia has been offering mail boxes with protection for a dozen years,” said Alex Smith, Intermedia’s Director of Security Products. “Traditionally we did that in house until 2012, with our Advanced Email Security offering. At that point, we decided to outsource it, and partnered with MacAfee, in order to use their name and build credibility, and we began migrating customers off the in- house solution to it.”

Flash forward to October 2015, when Intel Security announced the McAfee platform was being end-of-lifed.

“At that point we had about a 50-50 split between mailboxes on our original platform, and on the McAfee one, with about half a million mailboxes on each,” Smith said. Migrating the McAfee users back wasn’t a real option, because the legacy platform used older technologies.

“It was clear that our strategy needed to change, and we tried out lots of different solutions,” Smith said. “We looked at the options out there, including hosted ones like McAfee had been, as well as appliances. It was clear to use that the skill level of our partners and customers who would use this meant that we couldn’t have a solution with 100 whistles and bells to tweak and hone. What we needed was a solution that we could offer in a very automated way, with an appropriate interface – and with top tier protection. It became clear that no one partner could provide that – so we brought it back in house.”

The new solution, Intermedia Email Protection, was designed differently than the legacy Advanced Email Security, however.

“In the legacy solution, we did the engine ourselves,” Smith said. “This time, we didn’t want to become a security vendor. So we decided to partner with other vendors, and we would provide the framework, host it, and be in control of the back end.”

The new solution has three vendor anti-spam engines: Cloudmark, which McAfee also used as their primary anti-spam engine; Cyren; and Vade Secure, which is heuristics-based.

“We used our million mailboxes to give us the lowest possible price based on economies of scale, which allowed us to use three engines,” Smith said. “Combining all the engines provides a very wide amount of protection, and we now have three opinions, giving a high confidence factor to drive down false positives. We didn’t want to have to set up a quarantine area where legit messages flagged with a false positive can wind up and get lost.”

As well as the multiple engines, some new features have been added in Intermedia Email Protection.

“The big one here is point-of-click protection, which protects against phishing,” Smith said. “Intermedia LinkSafe protects at the point where a user actually clicks on a site, doing a check on its reputation, to prevent users from accessing known phishing sites. That’s included in the base product, not an additional extra, in order to make it accessible to SMB customers.”

Comprehensive dashboards which provide data-rich insights by aggregating information to drill down into email volume, spam, phishing and marketing message statistics, are a future addition. They are expected to be available in June 2017.

The new platform was technically live last September, although several months were spent doing stability tests to ensure five 9s reliability. The migration of the McAfee users on the new platform began in December, and is now complete. All new users have been put on the new platform for the last four months. All the remaining Intermedia mailboxes on the legacy platform are scheduled to be on the new one by June.