Untangle strengthens security suite with Malwarebytes partnership, looking to drive channel growth in 2019

Untangle recently announced their inaugural “Voice of the Channel” survey to determine the state and desires of their small business customers, as well as the priorities of their partners.

Small business-focused security vendor Untangle is looking to expand its market presence in 2019. They have strengthened their software suite by adding a new partnership with Malwarebytes to provide an additional layer of anti-malware protection. They have also been ramping up their channel efforts, strengthening their distribution, and hope to address customer weaknesses and security concerns revealed in their first-ever survey of their channel partners.

Untangle was founded in 2003, is headquartered in San Jose, and was recently acquired by a private equity firm. They make an integrated suite of software and appliances aimed principally at the small business market. It features a software next-generation firewall solution, NG Firewall, and includes Web filtering, and an additional layer of anti-malware protection to complement the firewall with ScoutIQ. The solution also  provides capabilities to specifically address issues like ransomware and the ability to protect connected Internet of Things devices.

“We are not broadly recognized, but are well known in a lot of niche spaces,” said Katie Bensten, Director of Sales at Untangle. These include a variety of SLED categories, as well as nonprofits, hospitality and retail. “We are one of the smaller players in the market, but are a very strong word-of-mouth company.”

Untangle originally built its business catering to the cost-conscious element of the market, although price is no longer something that they lead with.

Katie Bensten, Director of Sales at Untangle

“We built the business on an open source platform on a freemium model designed to support SMBs who had little budget,” Bensten said. “Now we are more in line with other vendors on price. Our differentiators are things like a wide range of deployment options, which is much more than providing hardware and a bundle. We live in AWS, and are working to bring more options there. Our Command Center management platform is fully cloud, and lets partners create templates. In addition, our reporting, which is database driven and allows you to drill down, is also an asset. We also have no additional service costs.”

The newly-announced partnership with Malwarebytes provides a further layer of anti-malware protection that complements NG Firewall’s Virus Blocker and ScoutIQ cloud threat scan. It leverages Malwarebytes recent aggressive partnering strategy, designed to impress upon the market that they are much more than simply a provider of freeware to remediate damage after an attack, and have a Malwarebytes for Business product that has over 60,000 customers. The new integration gives administrators the ability to get detailed information from hosts on the network, including any threat alerts and when the last Malwareytes scan was run. If an action needs to be taken, the administrator can initiate a scan directly from Command Center. Untangle sees the partnership as a step towards being able to provide a full network security orchestration platform for SMBs and distributed enterprises.

“Security orchestration across the network and connected devices has been a costly, cumbersome and daunting task for SMBs and the channel that serves them,” Bensten said. “The integration between Untangle and Malwarebytes provides unprecedented ease-of-use for admins and MSPs to simplify the security of their distributed networks, providing comprehensive visibility, alerting, and remediation from a single pane of glass.”

The go-to-market model has historically been a hybrid one, but Untangle is now ramping up its channel presence.

“We have used a combination of direct and channel for years, including a self-service option through our ecommerce platform,” Bensten said.

“Last year, we put a lot more emphasis on bringing on value-added distributors, which we had not before,” said Shannon Bonfiglio, Untangle’s Marketing Communications Manager. “We now have between 8 and 10 globally.”

“We have made the decision to focus heavily on channel partners going forward,” Bensten indicated. “We now have over 1000 partners globally and are looking to scale that into 2019. Over half of these are MSPs, a channel that has become much stronger for us as both our platform and managed services as a whole have grown.” The partner count includes between 75-80 partners in Canada, the majority of whom are MSPs.

“The channel scales from one-person shops up to Large Account Resellers,” Bensten said. “We don’t have strategic relationships with CDW or Insight, but we do sell through them. Most of the channel is smaller-end partners, who have between 10 and 20 employees.”

Untangle just surveyed over 100 of their partners to their first of what they intended to be a regular annual “Voice of the Channel” survey, in order to get information on what their partners want and on what they believe their customers are thinking. One of the more striking findings was that 57 per cent of the channel partners supported the idea of moving customers to the cloud, to provide better security. Customers were less enthusiastic about this than partners, however. Partners said that 35 per cent of customers cited price, 31 per cent a lack of trust, and 27 per cent a lack of knowledge as the top barriers to getting customers to adopt cloud security solutions.

“It was surprising to us that 57 per cent of partners are eager to move to the cloud platform, even though it offers better security and performance, because it is a change,” Bensten said. “The channel is eager to move, and sometimes the market isn’t as eager to move yet. The channel has to stay ahead of those threats, but they also need to get the end user to accept this.

Partners said that malware and viruses (83.49%), phishing (77.06%), and ransomware (75.23%) were the top types of attacks customers had experienced. However, when asked about the largest threats channel partners expect to encounter in 2019, ransomware (80%), data breaches (55%), phishing (52%) and security exploits (51%) were the top ranked choices. One positive sign was that 43 per cent of clients reported phishing attacks before a breach occurred, indicating that some are becoming better at identifying this type of attack before they can cause damage.

On the bottom line numbers, 99 per cent of Untangle partners said that cybersecurity as an overall part of their business will increase or stay the same in 2019. 80 per cent believe their cybersecurity revenue will increase in 2019.