Barracuda unveils PhishLine offering for mid-size organizations

Barracuda has released a version of the PhishLine social engineering simulation offering they acquired early this year that is targeted at the 1000 seat market and under, with the big difference from the enterprise version coming from the removal of industry-specific customization options.

In January, Barracuda Networks enhanced their existing anti-phishing capabilities with the acquisition of PhishLine LLC, which makes a SaaS platform for social engineering simulation and training. The ability to offer this kind of training capability was something Barracuda did not have previously. PhishLine’s focus before acquisition was on the enterprise, while the large majority of Barracuda customers are midmarket and SMB. Accordingly Barracuda has now announced that they have come up with a version of the PhishLine offering aimed at users with 1,000 seats and less.

“When we acquired them, they were mostly enterprise, with an enterprise sales motion and enterprise products,” said Ezra Hookano, Barracuda’s VP of Channels. “We wanted to scale it down to the midmarket and below, because we considered that segment was underserved from a feature perspective.”

PhishLine is designed to train and test employees to recognize highly targeted phishing attacks. First, computer-based training gives users a baseline understanding of the latest techniques attackers are using. Second comes customized simulations that test and reinforce good user behavior.

“It’s a combination of testing of end-users, along with training them about what’s new in the phishing industry,” Hookano said. “We have automated everything we can as far as blocking spam. The last part missing was social engineering. Providing this training requires making people up to date on what’s occurring right now, follow-on training to prevent this in the future, and once they are at that base level, continuous training so they know what’s continuing to happen in the industry.”

Ezra Hookano, Barracuda’s VP of Channels

Hookano said that market demand for this is strong. He pointed to the results of a new global survey by Dimension Research commissioned by Barracuda, which found that 98 per cent of respondents said their organization would benefit from additional email security capabilities. Phishing simulation, at 63 per cent, led the capabilities in terms of popularity.  41 per cent said that end user training was critical – the highest category of response. Hardly any thought the reverse, that it wasn’t important at all.

“There is overwhelming pent-up demand for this,” Hookano said. “When we acquired PhishLine, we told our channel that we wouldn’t have an SMB product for them for a while. They asked us to get them something right away. They told us that they had demand for this every day.”

Hookano said that high profile breaches have had such an impact on customers that they are finding ways to fund this kind of training that goes beyond the IT budget.

“We have seen companies directing monies from training budgets and HR budgets to this,” he said. “This has also been the case at medium-sized and small companies, not just the big ones.”

Barracuda is defining this midmarket offering as a ‘streamlined edition.’ Hookano explained precisely what this means.

“The original product has a lot of customizations you can make about training and how content works,” he said. “If, for example, you are a Fortune 1000 bank, you can customize for that. That’s not applicable to the general market. Medium- sized businesses have issues which are more related to other medium-sized businesses’ issues, rather than to verticals, so the customization options are reduced.”

Hookano indicated that Barracuda will provide more targeted bundles going forward, although these will be for types of users, rather than customization options.

“There are a lot of things, such as packages for school districts, or city state and local governments, where we can provide off-the-shelf versions of the product,” he said. “These are things that we can do that go beyond generic.”

Barracuda sells entirely through channel partners, and their first reaction to the new sub-1000 version of the PhishLine product has been positive.

“We have only had a couple of in-depth trainings with partners on this, and the first couple have had an overwhelming number of opportunities crop up almost immediately,” Hookano said. “As soon as they understand that, it opens up for them.”