Cyberattacks have evolved into increasingly sophisticated forms of automation, with the result that even if companies attempt to protect themselves manually, the battle often turns into a war between humans and machines, with very poor odds for human businesses.
So yes, having the best internet security software is a must, but often not enough for enterprises and small businesses alike, who more than ever need to fully understand and embrace network automation.
In this interview with Andrew Kahl, CEO of BackBox, leading provider of network automation, security and management solutions, we will learn the basics about network automation and how BackBox helps top brands worldwide automate their processes while keeping their network healthy and secure from cyberthreats.
Please Describe The Story Behind Backbox: How Did It All Start, And How Has It Evolved So Far?
BackBox was founded in 2009 in Israel and quickly became a market leader in network automation, security and management solutions. In October of 2021, BackBox moved its headquarters to Dallas, TX and secured a $32M Series A round of funding. The focus of BackBox’s technology is to reliably automate the network engineering work that continuously improves the health, performance, and compliance of network security infrastructure.
Who Is Your Typical Customer?
BackBox’s technology was built for companies of varying sizes with complex, multi-vendor networks. Enterprise giants like Coca-Cola, Comcast and AT&T trust BackBox to secure their network security infrastructure.
SMBs face a unique set of challenges when it comes to network security because they lack the internal expertise and resources needed to protect their networks from the onslaught of cyber threats. In August of 2022, BackBox also launched a Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) program to focus on smaller companies. This program is designed to help MSPs and MSSPs accelerate their network security capabilities, as they are critical, strategic partners for strengthening their customers’ security posture.
Can You Briefly Explain What Network Automation Is And How It Works?
For many, “network automation” today means homegrown scripts that network admins write to complete a task. BackBox’s approach to network automation is far more comprehensive. BackBox offers over 2,400 pre-built automations out-of-the-box. Custom automation scripts can be built by our customers without any knowledge of scripting languages using our platform. These scripts will reliably execute across all devices in the network.
BackBox simplifies how enterprises, SMEs and SMBs maintain their network’s performance and security in complex network environments. It is a central repository for automating processes that quickly become unmanageable without an automation tool.
What Are The Top Benefits Of Implementing Network Automation?
Network engineers must efficiently manage hybrid environments consisting of both physical and virtual devices, prevent network configuration errors that cause interruptions in continuity, recover from unplanned outages, plan for changes in hardware and configuration, and manage patch updates. These tasks are demanding if done manually.
Routine configuration tasks, for example, take substantial amounts of time for an IT team to complete manually, impacting productivity and being susceptible to human error – which can create exploitable vulnerabilities. Often network engineers will create their own, homegrown scripts to automate the completion of these tasks. That knowledge exists in silos which are subject to employee turnover and can jeopardize an emergency recovery process, when speed and consistency are needed most. Another benefit of implementing a network automation tool is automatically completing routine tasks like scheduled updates. When these tasks are put off, overlooked, or executed inconsistently, it can affect network performance and security.
Patch management is also a monumental task for network administrators to complete manually. They must prioritize the updates, deploy them, and ensure each patch has been implemented correctly. Network engineers are often buried by the sheer volume of patches. A benefit of an automated solution like BackBox’s is making easy work of patch management by automating the workload and providing validation It also frees up network administrators’ time to focus on tasks that can help grow the business instead of manually applying patches across the network.
Let’s Talk About Your Hybrid-Saas Network Automation Platform. What Are Its Key Elements And What Makes It Stand Out?
BackBox is aiming to expand the way network automation tools are used to enhance network security. Many of our customers need a distributed approach to manage multi-cloud environments, especially our MSP, MSSP, and cloud-first customers. With the release of our Hybrid-SaaS platform we can better serve our customers that have complex, hybrid networks. The new offering delivers:
- Greater scalability and faster onboarding for both managed service providers (MSPs) and managed security service providers (MSSPs), as well as enterprise customers.
- Expanded capabilities for network inventory and adds cloud-based telemetry reporting on usage, performance, and inventory data into an easy-to-use executive dashboard.
- Analytics help customers quantify the business impact of network automation and inform their automation strategies.
Do You Think That Automation Is Actually Threatening Employment In Your Industry?
BackBox’s aim with network automation is not about automating network professionals out of a job. Our solution is based on helping IT teams remove network complexity, take human error out of operations, and be more efficient in a job market where skilled IT workers are hard to find and difficult to keep.
With automation, IT staff can spend more quality time on strategic activities like R&D or growth-related initiatives instead of administrative work like updating configurations with manual laborious scripts – all while achieving higher returns on IT investments.
This in turn helps with retention since skilled IT professionals do not want to spend their time on repetitive but critical tasks – they would rather use their talents to focus on solving more complex and strategic network initiatives.
Is There Any Recent Cyber-Attack That Concerned You More Than Others?
Company networks are a prime target for cybercriminals and ransomware attacks. These attacks are effective because companies are unable to continue operations while their networks are down – Gartner estimates the cost of network downtime to be upwards of $300,000 per hour. Victims are incentivized to pay the ransom to get their networks back online, thereby rewarding criminals for their nefarious behavior. Nichirin-Flex, Geographic Solutions, and Shields Health Care Group are some recent examples.
Network automation tools like BackBox make a fundamental difference in recovering quickly and completely from these attacks. Our customers use our platform to automatically back up their networks on a defined schedule, validate that those backups are complete, and validate that the restore process is comprehensive so, in an emergency like a ransomware attack, our customers’ networks can be restored quickly and reliably with a one-click recovery feature.
Lastly, What’s In The Future For Backbox?
BackBox is focused on expanding our MSP and MSSP program and positioning our technology as best suited for network automation and network security automation. We just announced two key strategic hires, Josh Stephens as our Chief Strategy Officer and Gautam Shankar as our Vice President of MSP Sales to expand our efforts in product development and go-to-market strategy, to provide more value to managed security providers. We are also working on some key technology partnerships, and creating a community program to enrich the experience of BackBox customers.