Malwarebytes, Amy Appleyard

PCR’s Dec-Jan Life in the channel interview with Malwarebyte’s, Amy Appleyard

Real-time cyberprotection specialist, Malwarebytes recently appointed Amy Appleyard as its new senior vice president of Global Sales. Appleyard joined Malwarebytes from VMware, where she was vice president of Sales for the Commercial division of VMware Carbon Black. Michelle Winny, Editor of PCR caught up with Amy to find out how she is getting on in her new role.

Since joining Malwarebytes, Amy Appleyard has driven forward the company’s focus on providing MSPs with cybersecurity solutions for their customers. As a female in the cybersecurity industry Appleyard explains more about why a career in cybersecurity is so rewarding.

Please could you tell us a bit about your background within the channel and your new role at Malwarebytes and moving over from VMware?
Having worked in cyber security for a number of years, I am deeply aware of the importance of working with channel partners and MSPs, as most customers leverage channel partners to help them define and meet their security maturity goals. At Malwarebytes, we value working with channel partners to provide endpoint security solutions, which are a key component of any security framework. I moved to Malwarebytes from VMware as I was interested in taking on a global role and in working for an incredibly nimble organisation with aspirational growth goals, and a focus on Mid-Market customers. I have enjoyed getting to know my new team, and especially developing strategies to meet the needs of international organisations.

I understand that in your current role, you are tasked with expanding the company’s focus on cybersecurity solutions. Please could you explain a bit more about this and the current need within the channel?
We have seen a gap in cybersecurity solutions that solve the needs of small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs); part of my role is to help reach and serve this market. Many business cybersecurity solutions are aimed at large enterprises with a security operations team, and can be overwhelming for SMBs that need simple, automated solutions. Our solutions help to ensure that cybersecurity is simple and intuitive for this audience, while also streamlining management of the solutions from MSPs or other partners in tandem. Channel partners and MSPs are integral in giving us the ability to reach and help more SMBs by reducing hands-on management and providing a more approachable experience for businesses without a security team.

Tell us a bit more about how Malwarebytes is supporting the next phase in addressing cybersecurity threats and remote worker management?
Many businesses were not fully prepared for the shift to remote or hybrid work environments, and this expanded into cybersecurity preparedness as well. Without properly secured networks at home, many remote workers are at risk. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) attacks are rising as more organisations work from home. Brute force RDP attacks seek to gain access to an Internet-connected computer, and then use it to infect other devices and servers on the network. Attackers operating ransomware such as Egregor and REvil use exposed RDP connections to access a vulnerable device. Malwarebytes’ Brute Force Protection directly combats these attacks by blocking IP addresses that exceed a threshold of invalid login attempts on Windows workstations and servers.

I understand you are a passionate advocate for women in tech and women in leadership roles. Please could you explain a bit more about this?
I was very fortunate to have been given stretch assignments early in my career, by people who helped to mentor me which enabled my journey into leadership. I try to pay it forward by sponsoring and mentoring women who otherwise might not think they are ‘ready’ for more. I encourage them to raise their hands and take chances with stretch assignments and also applying for positions they think they aren’t yet ready for – this increases their visibility within the organisation and helps to build confidences. I appreciate companies and teams with diverse leadership and want to make sure I am contributing to growing and developing future leaders.

Please could you explain a bit more about Malwarebytes platform integrations program?
Our customers and partners use Malwarebytes’ business products with a wide variety of other security and IT tools. To ensure that they can facilitate management of tools as seamlessly as possible with popular tools, we continue to build and host a number of platform integrations with leading SOAR, SIEM, ITSM, and RMM/PSA platforms. The recent relaunch of our platform integrations program enables partners and customers to more easily find and access our integrations and more effectively try them to determine that they provide the right level of functionality and ultimately value. We see many partners and customers extending their endpoint security practice with automations, enhancing their threat intelligence, and finding new operational efficiencies by using our platform integrations.

What inspires you about working in the channel?
I value collaboration and working with channel partners allows me to have a combined team of people who can help customers meet their needs. I am also a very social person and enjoy having colleagues to work with who aren’t within my immediate company – working in the channel expands your network! Also, when selling cybersecurity solutions, having channel partners allows you to be one of a few solutions that can combine to meet the customer’s needs – the channel partner can pull it all together.

How has business changed within the channel over the past couple of years and where do you see the foreseeable future headed?
How our customers consume solutions has radically changed over the past several years. This change started to emerge as the transition from hardware into software became more ubiquitous. Now subscription-based SaaS models have become prolific both at the consumer and enterprise levels. This plus the move towards digital transformation, hybrid workplace transition (especially accelerated by COVID), and the need for end-to-end security has created unique opportunities for our Channel partners. Our customers rely on these very partners to build solutions that encompass all elements of the technology stack, creating a unique opportunity for our partners to become experts on the security stack, providing end-to-end solutions and guidance to our customers. This, coupled with the need for consultative guidance, also creates great opportunity for our partners to position professional services and managed services to help customers ensure they are getting the maximum return on their investment.

How has Malware become more of a threat over recent months?
Overall, malware has become more of a threat recently because of the focus on targeting critical infrastructure, manufacturing plants and supply chain operations. Ransom against these organisations cause significant disruption and possible loss, so it’s in the best interest of the organisation to cooperate with the criminal. At the same time, however, increased operations against cybercriminals by global law enforcement has likely pushed some groups to launch more daring attacks with a greater payout, perhaps to take what they can and get out of the game before LE closes in.

In addition to that, during the pandemic, many criminals had the time to develop and repurpose tools which make intrusion and exploitation easier. So, organisations who already struggle to keep systems and services updated and secured, will find themselves being targeted more and more.

Just how sophisticated have ransomware attacks become and can you give any recent examples that you have encountered?
Sophisticated attacks are coming from every direction. What we have seen over the last year are attacks that are perhaps less technically sophisticated, but bolder and more calculated in attacking bigger targets and demanding higher ransoms. The attack against Acer earlier this year was accomplished by exploiting a vulnerability in a Microsoft Exchange Server. The attacks against the IT company Kaseya was so effective at hijacking software supply chains, that It infected between 800 and 1500 small businesses who utilised an MSP who deployed Kaseya to their customers. Finally, attacks against CD Projekt Red & Quanta by the REvil gang, prove that stealing intellectual property, like blueprints & source code, may be an effective way to extort a victim.

Where are these attacks originating from and who are these attackers?
Attacks come from all over the world, but many of these groups refuse to infect systems within the former Soviet Union, leading many to believe that most of these folks are in Russia or surrounding countries. There have been many arrests in Ukraine, however we’ve seen arrests in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the US for various cybercrime efforts over the last year.

Attackers are usually part of a larger group or gang that share responsibility for running attacks. They are mostly financially motivated, however there are plenty who are very Anti-Western countries and the occasional based on the text they use in their ransom notes. When a group becomes large enough, constant revenue is important to maintain healthy relationships between affiliates and leadership.

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