Talk about timing. Yesterday, Symantec announced that they will acquire Skycure, the mobile threat defense vendor. I happen to be in the middle of writing a series of articles called, “In 2017, Mobile Threat Defense is finding its groove,” so I’ve been thinking about the context a lot.
There’s a chance that you might not know what’s going on in the mobile threat defense space, and a very good chance that your company isn’t using or even thinking about it. However, as the title of my recent articles mention, mobile threat defense is finding its groove right now. What’s going on? You can read the aforementioned articles for more details, but here’s the short version:
Various mobile security apps have existed for almost as long as modern smartphones have been around, but for the most part enterprises didn’t really adopt them. Simply put, mobile devices are relatively safe, and when it comes to security, most companies have more pressing issues to deal with and have found that for mobile devices, enterprise mobility management is sufficient for their needs.
Regardless, in the last few years, the current crop of mobile threat defense vendors has coalesced. All the typical features have materialized, and the relationship with enterprise mobility management has been defined—a few specific use cases can overlap, but generally the two product categories are adjacent. EMM and mobile threat defense partnerships have been established, with technical integrations that bring concrete advantages. Most importantly, mobile threat models have become much more mature.
Mobile threat defense vendors have landed their first significant waves of customer logos. Generally, the customers are companies in the Global 1000, companies with very mature mobility strategies, or organizations that are extremely security sensitive.
Skycure and Symantec
Now Symantec’s acquisition of Skycure is adding to the mobile threat defense momentum.
Skycure was founded just 5 years ago, in Israel, and now has about 75 employees split between Tel Aviv and their headquarters in Palo Alto. Back in April, I spoke to Varun Kohli, Skycure’s VP of marketing, and he told me they were getting close to 100 customers.
Skycure hits all the categories of mobile threat defense functionality. (You can dig into this more in part 2 of my recent series.) At the device level, their agent checks for risks and anomalous behavior; at the app level, they provide a mobile app reputation service; and at the network level, they check for compromised connections, and can remediate by cutting off access to certain enterprise resources or sending traffic over a VPN. They integrate with all the major EMM providers and distribute their agents exclusively via public app stores. Skycure is also available to consumers.
According to Crunchbase, Skycure has $27.5 million in funding, with the most recent coming from a $16.5 million Round B last summer. For comparison, their competitor Lookout has $282 million in funding with over 150 customers, and another competitor, Zimperium, has $60 million in funding. Skycure’s customer traction, combined with the earlier stage of their funding, clearly made them an attractive acquisition target for Symantec. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Symantec’s history around the enterprise mobility space has been spotty. They acquired Odyssey MDM and Nukona mobile app management in 2012, rolled them into an EMM suite by 2014, but then deprioritized it in 2015 and announced its end of life in 2016. Symantec also has Norton Mobile, but that’s focused on consumers and small businesses.
Clearly, Symantec intends this to be a turning point. A quote attributed to CEO Greg Clark said, “Mobile is a core component of our strategy and the acquisition of Skycure is a major step forward in executing it.” The press release mentioned plans to integrate Skycure with Symantec’s enterprise, consumer, and partner-oriented offerings.
I do feel a bit trepidation after seeing what ended up happening with Symantec’s EMM efforts, but hopefully this will work out differently because it’s pure security.
I’ll be going more in-depth on the mobile threat defense market in the final part of my series, but here’s what we can say for now:
Nobody is expecting this space to take off like a rocket ship immediately—again, we’ve seen that most organizations are fine without it and have bigger issues to deal with.
However, mobile threat defense tools are useful in many different circumstances. Some companies are turning to it for compliance reasons; others because they just want an additional layer on top of EMM; and others because the threats are out there and they believe they may be a specific target.
Symantec will be one of the bigger players pushing mobile threat defense, so their ability to sell into existing customers and bundle it with other offerings will certainly help, too.
As you can see, all signs point to mobile threat defense finding its groove. Many customers aren’t thinking about it right now, but it’s maturing and growing. Keep an eye on the space.