Proofpoint: protecting customers with the right approach

Deborah Watson, Proofpoint’s Resident CISO, discusses the company’s values and how it supports the University of Oklahoma with cyber defences

Providers of cybersecurity and compliance solutions, Proofpoint, protect people over every channel including email, the web, the cloud and social media.

Commenting on the company, Proofpoint’s Resident CISO, Deborah Watson said: “First and foremost, we listen to our customers. To address their needs, we continuously focus on addressing reducing the risks in the evolving threat landscape.”

In her role, Watson provides guidance on strategy and ensures that Proofpoint offers services to meet customer needs.

The University of Oklahoma has been a customer of Proofpoint’s since 2016 and offers the institution email protection with TAP and TRAP, CASB, TAM.

Adding to this, Watson said: “The University of Oklahoma is unique in the fact that they have a very diverse set of security circumstances as a public research school. In addition to having three campuses and offering remote learning, their teaching hospital is also the only Level 1 Trauma center in Oklahoma. With all of this, they have a lot of challenges that a hospital or other healthcare system would have, as well as a university.”

She added: “The university is the number one cancer treatment system in the area. It's extremely important that they are protected. They are a critical infrastructure for helping people and serving their community. And if they fail, then it's a problem.”

These challenges include email phishing attacks, cloud app threats, email and cloud security and IT efficiency. Exacerbating these challenges are the environments in which students connect to the university’s network: “The university also has students that come and go, so they're working from a coffee shop, the dorm room or their home. In a typical company, at least before COVID, most people were working in an office that was completely controlled, which has never been the case for the University of Oklahoma,” explained Watson.

To overcome these challenges, she added:  “Our solution provides them with a consolidated solution to cover all of the different places into a single umbrella. That saves them a lot of time and money, avoiding what we call ‘shelfware’, where a lot of organisations buy things and end up not using them. By having this single platform, they don't have to go to three different windows to do one job and that helps with resources.”

“The university has a limited budget like everybody else. And so it makes their workforce more efficient, makes their job easier and reduces the risk that somebody could bypass their preventative measures.”

Striking the right balance between the customer and the infrastructure

With its customer-centric approach, Proofpoint always aims to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and in doing so, protect people, data and brands against advanced threats and compliance risks.

“A cybersecurity attack isn't going to be effective if somebody on the other end doesn't take some form of response. That's why we take a people-centric approach,” explained Watson.

“More than 99% of cyber-attacks require human interaction to be successful,” she added.

Noting the importance of focusing on Very Attacked People (VAPs) rather than VIPs, Watson outlined that this approach is of equal importance to focusing on infrastructure, and striking the right balance lends itself to Proofpoint’s success.

She concluded: “Unlike security teams, cybercriminals aren’t focused on infrastructure and don’t view the world as a network diagram. Defenders, on the other hand, are confident in dealing with networks and endpoints, which is why more than 60% of IT budgets are focused on the network.”


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