Endpoint security firm SentinelOne is now backing its ability to block or remediate ransomware attacks with a guarantee of $1,000 per endpoint or up to $1 million per organization, the company announced today.
This move is also a sign that SentinelOne's new chief of security strategy, Jeremiah Grossman, is continuing his crusade to make security companies take on more legal responsibility for the effectiveness of their products. It's a mission he started several years ago while still with White Hat Security, which offered breach loss coverage up to $500,000 and a full-refund warranty.
Although the average cost of a ransom payment may still be below $1,000 per endpoint, the overall cost of an attack may be much higher once the costs of downtime, forensic investigations, compliance fines, replacement infrastructure is included, not to mention damaged reputation, are included. Many organizations have been stuck paying up ransoms because of a combination of increasingly sophisticated cryptoransomware and inadequate backup alternatives.
By the time ransomware attackers ask for payout, they may already have the victim organization in a chokehold. In some cases, security teams can crack the crypto; in others, they cannot. However, before ransomware gets to the point of loudly announcing intself to the unfortunate end user, it's banging around the endpoint rather noisily engaging in abnormal behavior -- like scanning full file systems and beginning to encrypt them.
So, even if a new strain of ransomware has never been seen before and has no signature, the behavior is so common to it that SentinelOne feels confident its behavioral analysis technology can detect unknown ransomware by monitoring for this sort of behavior. (The old-fashioned "locker" ransomware that didn't encrypt files has fallen out of favor, says Grossman, and ransomware operators' "path forward is really good end-to-end crypto.")
The importance of liability
Despite the confidence in the technology and the guarantee, Grossman doesn't expect that SentinelOne's product will catch every instance of ransomware every time, though.
That hasn't stopped him from pushing for security companies to provide more liability protection -- and for software companies to take more responsibility for their security. He's received some pushback, though. "The argument [against it] is that 'you can't guarantee security,'" Grossman says. "While that's true, can we guarantee it 99% of the time?"
Grossman's counterargument is that automakers and electronics companies don't expect that every one of their products will be perfect, either, but that doesn't stop them from providing customers with product warranties that exist to cover the times when their products are not perfect. His attraction to joining SentinelOne was that they were able to provide the kind of data that insurance providers would require in order to back the kind of guarantee SentinelOne will offer.
So, despite resistance of others in the infosec community, Grossman has been unwavering in his sentiments. "I heard them loud and and clear," he says, "I just wasn't hearing them."
"Customers are now asking for this," he says, and he urges end users to keep asking security vendors for more liability, because that will push the needle forward.
When asked if skepticism about and resistance to guarantees was to be expected from an infosec industry, which is risk-averse, Grossman countered that they are "risk-averse only in relation to themselves" and don't mind if their customers are at-risk.
Grossman will be presenting a session at the Black Hat conference next week about cyber insurance and some how-tos about providing guarantees like this one.
"Fifteen years ago I knew that appsec was a problem, and 'kicking and screaming, I dragged the industry along," he says. "It's time to do it again."