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AppRiver Passing More Leads To Partners, Boosting Channel Commitment

AppRiver has reduced its direct customer base by 10 percent as the email security provider delivers more leads and accounts to channel partners, according to Chris Essex, vice president of global sales.

AppRiver Vice President of Global Sales Chris Essex said the company has redoubled its commitment to the channel following February's acquisition by email security provider Zix.

The Gulf Breeze, Fla.-based cybersecurity vendor has built out a new selling methodology that includes online webinars for channel partners as well as more internal channel organization training and joint on-site delivery with channel engineers, Essex said. AppRiver has also taken some leads in its direct sales business and passed them along to channel partners, he said.

"We've reduced by 10 percent our total direct customer base, and it's moving to our partners," Essex told XChange 2019 attendees Tuesday. AppRiver has also enjoyed a vast uptick in its ability to drive cross-sell activity with channel partners, according to Essex.

[Related: Zix CEO Dave Wagner On How Buying AppRiver Unlocks SMB, Microsoft Opportunities]

AppRiver's focus on providing and arming solution providers for success resulted in a partnership with Microsoft to run quarterly SMB surveys, Essex said. In turn, Essex said the data provided to the channel community from the survey will enable partners to be more effective when going out and talking to customers.

For instance, Essex told XChange attendees that seven out of 10 SMBs have been compromised in the past three months. AppRiver wants its channel partners to have data like this and know how to apply it specifically to the problems the company is trying to solve, he added.

AppRiver is the second largest provider of Office 365 in North America and was working as a syndication partner before Microsoft even put its Cloud Solution Provider program in place, Essex said. The company has technical support, implementation, and channel engineering teams that just go out and work specifically with channel partners to help them expand their business, according to Essex.

Businesses with fewer than 150 employees tend to be most concerned about viruses, Essex said, while companies with between 150 and 250 employees are typically most focused on ransomware. Some 55 percent of all SMBs would be willing to pay the ransom if hit by ransomware, Essex said, including 74 percent of larger SMBs with more than 150 employees.

Customers of Itasca, Ill.-based MSP MotherG still tend to be very virus-centric and figure that email-based threats will be handled by the provider's spam control mechanism, according to COO Philippe Schmitt. But phishing attempts for Microsoft Azure and Office 365 credentials carry real power and are much more involved than a piece of malware, Schmitt said.

Security awareness training has gone a long way toward stopping clients from falling prey to scams such as a purported email from their supervisor requesting an electronic fund transfer, Schmitt said. But technology can only go so far, Schmitt said, and human cooperation is essential when defending against multiform, polymorphic attacks.

In addition, Schmitt said organizations that have embraced single sign-on to provide users with a single point of entry into their Azure and Office 365 systems must also embrace multifactor authentication to ensure proper protection is in place.

As for AppRiver, Essex said the company has a security lab team that uses advanced technology to look at both the threats coming in on a daily basis as well as email-specific attacks and developments. The Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 94 percent of all malware is delivered through email such as via hyperlink or through business email compromise, Essex said.

Given that email is the primary source of attacks, Essex said solution providers need to be able to expand their security practice to the cloud regardless of whether they have the expertise on staff. Most of AppRiver's MSP partners either deliver or provide training around cybersecurity threats such as business email compromise or credential theft, according to Essex.

For instance, Essex said partners can train their customers to not click on an email URL if it doesn't say Microsoft or Windows or Office 365. Although AppRiver also has the capabilities and technology to provide protection around other email providers like G Suite, Essex said Microsoft Windows is the most attacked OS in the world and Office 365 is the most commonly attacked email platform.

Attacks being launched off Azure environments themselves require a layered approach to protection, Essex said. And AppRiver has been trying to enable its partners with that capability and technology, according to Essex.

"We trust and love our relationship with Microsoft, and have a very powerful one," Essex said.

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