A Chat with Tony Pepper, CEO at Data Security Software: Egress

As the leading provider of human layer security, our mission is to help organisations solve their most complex cybersecurity challenge: insider data breaches. We understand that people make genuine mistakes and sometimes they break the rules while trying to get their jobs done. We also know they’re vulnerable to targeted attacks by cyber-criminals.

Because these breaches are driven by people’s behaviour in specific contexts, insider risk has traditionally been a very difficult and complex problem to solve. But by using intelligent technology that leverages the latest advances in contextual machine learning, we provide a new, effective way of mitigating this risk as employees share content. In particular, we focus on email and file sharing.

Research has shown that 93% of organisations have suffered an outbound email data breach, at a rate of one incident every 12 working hours. To try to mitigate these incidents, many organisations have implemented traditional data loss prevention (DLP) security technologies, but these tools are difficult to scale and can’t provide dynamic protection, so ultimately only offer patchy protection at best.

Our approach is different – by using contextual machine learning, we have created intelligent solutions that truly understand a user’s behaviour to detect when data is genuinely at risk.

Our technology inspects the email body and attachments to determine the risk to data in real time. By building a picture of how each employee uses email day-to-day, our solutions spot abnormal behaviour (like an incorrect recipient or wrong file attachment) and prompt the user before the email is sent. We also provide solutions beyond email – our secure collaboration and file sharing tool, Egress Secure Workspace, to ensure that organisations and their employees are able to share all digital content safely, including large files.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I co-founded the company with our COO Neil Larkins. We’d worked together at a previous business that provided encryption to secure data stored on removable media, and was subsequently sold to Checkpoint Software Technologies. When we founded Egress, email was replacing removable media for data sharing, so providing email encryption was the natural next step. While we still offer message encryption, our business has continued to innovate and evolve to provide the greatest levels of security that leverage the latest technology advancements and respond to changes in the way people work.

Our business has always been centred on the fact that every organisation’s biggest security risk is its people – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Our approach aims to make people an organisation’s biggest security defense, by putting people at the heart of security. This approach doesn’t demonize people; fundamentally the vast majority of human-activated data breaches are caused by well-intentioned employees just trying to get their jobs done. We’re here to provide technology thar removes this insider risk, helping people get on with their jobs securely and seamlessly.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

By fundamentally changing the way we work, the pandemic has heightened security risks for every organisation, particularly when it comes to how employees communicate with each other, and with clients and third parties. This is particularly true for email, which research shows remains the most popular way for employees to communicate, particularly when sending sensitive data. 85% of employees say that they’re sending more emails since the start of the pandemic.

With greater email volumes comes a greater risk of incidents such as misdirected email. This rise in email volumes is likely to be sustained in the long term with many organisations adopting hybrid working, so employees will continue their heavy reliance on email.

Additionally, remote work increases the risk of email data loss, with 60% of employees reporting that they work in environments where distractions and interruptions are commonplace. Highly distracted employees are more likely to cause mistakes, leading to human-activated data breaches. As a result, we’re partnering with an ever-increasing number of organisations to secure their people and their data.

What can we hope to see from Egress in the future?

Egress is expanding rapidly and we’ll be keeping that momentum up over the coming years. We’ve just opened our first New York office to help accelerate our growth in North America. We also want to keep pushing the boundaries when it comes to our technology. Again, we go back to the core ways people cause security breaches: by making mistakes, breaking the rules, and being victim to targeted attacks. You can expect continued product innovation across these three areas designed to help people work securely – wherever they’re based and however they need to share data.