Proofpoint acquires Cloudmark


Major industry news today as Proofpoint and Cloudmark announced a major acquisition deal. Proofpoint agreed to pay $110 million in cash to acquire Cloudmark. Prior to this acquisition, Proofpoint focused on business filters. Cloudmark’s focus was selling into large ISPs, including large cable providers, and mobile carriers. Proofpoint assured investors they will continue to supporting and developing the Cloudmark filters. At the same time they’re incorporating the Cloudmark Global Threat Network into their Nexus platform.
A few things came to mind when I saw the announcement.
Both companies focused on different types of email filtering. Proofpoint developed products for business, building filters that address spam but they did a lot more. Many of the filter features have nothing to do with blocking mail, but instead focus on other business critical functions like protecting intellectual property and maintaining compliance with various laws and regulations. Cloudmark, on the other hand, created filters that businesses could deploy to protect consumers as well as use in their business
With this acquisition we’re starting to see a consolidation of functionality. The distance between business filters and consumer filters continues to close.
Filtering isn’t just about spam, though.
This acquisition improves Proofpoint’s ability to filter things other than spam. Their announcement specifically calls out spear phishing and business email compromise (BEC) as problems. They are. Criminals steal billions of dollars from businesses through email attacks. These same types of attacks were employed in the 2016 US elections against candidates and parties.
It feels like we’re embarking on a new phase of security and compliance. Those tools we built to deal with spam and protect the internet from abuse generally worked. Our mail infrastructure isn’t falling down due to spam. Now we need to look forward to handling different kinds of abuse. The same people who stepped up to the plate in the early 2000’s to address spam are now looking at how to protect individuals online.
It’s a nice internet we’ve got here. Let’s see if we can keep it.

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