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Arctic Wolf Buys Security Awareness Content Startup Habitu8

‘We both have a pretty firm philosophical belief that there’s a right way to do awareness. With his [Habitu8 CEO Jason Hoenich’s] background from Disney and Sony, his standard of quality for the content and for the programs is higher,’ says Arctic Wolf’s Steve Buege.

Arctic Wolf has purchased Habitu8 to create security awareness content that’s engaging and fun and not an annual check-the-box exercise focused primarily on compliance.

The Eden Prairie, Minn.-based security operations vendor said Habitu8’s security awareness content is fresh, timely and has high production quality due to Founder and CEO Jason Hoenich’s experience as a producer and scriptwriter for security awareness programs at Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company, according to Steve Buege, Arctic Wolf’s VP and GM of managed security awareness.

“We both have a pretty firm philosophical belief that there‘s a right way to do awareness,” Buege told CRN. “With his background from Disney and Sony, his standard of quality for the content and for the programs is higher.”

[Related: Arctic Wolf Raises $150M On $4.3B Valuation To Fuel Tech M&A]

Terms of the deal, which closed Monday, weren’t disclosed, and Hoenich will lead security awareness management and delivery for Arctic Wolf as vice president of service delivery. Habitu8 has three employees and 100 customers who either use the company’s LMS learning platform or download individual pieces of content, Hoenich told CRN.

Under Arctic Wolf, Buege said he plans to extend Habitu8’s content beyond security awareness to address new areas such as compliance and skills training. Existing partners and customers can access to Habitu8’s content and how-to guides as part of Arctic Wolf Managed Security Awareness at no further cost, where it will be offered alongside tools like phishing simulation and account takeover monitoring.

“We’re looking to add scale, we’re looking to add quality content, and we‘re looking to add talent like Jason [Hoenich], who has run large-scale awareness programs at big organizations,” Buege said.

Habitu8’s learning platform is today primarily used by organizations with between 100 and 500 users, many of whom are technology startups on the West Coast, according to Hoenich. The company’s content delivery customers include businesses with as many as 250,000 users, many of whom are in the financial industry, Hoenich said.

The company historically hasn’t worked much with solution providers, and Buege said Arctic Wolf will likely over time add channel partners to the mix. Arctic Wolf wants to ensure the transition to the channel-led delivery model is a value-add for Habitu8 customers and not too abrupt, according to Buege.

“Disney was a company that was used to creating entertainment experiences everyone pays money for,” said Hoenich, who did information security awareness and education at Disney from 2013 to 2015. “I wanted something that was similar to that [for security awareness] and it didn‘t exist from anyone in the space that time, so I started producing them when I was at Disney, and it became really popular.”

Hoenich said Habitu8’s security awareness videos use many of the same actors and storytellers and exist in the same universe, but the content isn’t serialized, meaning that users don’t need to view previous episodes to understand what’s going on. Even though Habitu8’s videos all feel like they’re part of the same story, Hoenich said episodes can be watched on a standalone basis.

From a metrics standpoint, Buege said Arctic Wolf plans to track the extent to which the Habitu8 acquisition boosts the security culture score for existing customers. The security culture score is a single organization-wide figure that measures alignment between user behavior and security best practices, and Buege expects Habitu8’s timely, memorable and engaging content should drive improved behavior.

“We’re using the same production equipment, the same talent, the same crews, and the same sound stages that the large studio productions are using,” Hoenich said. “We choose and continue to choose to invest in our content.”

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