Startup Spotlight: Data Security Startup Uses AI to Protect Critical Confidential Information

Date Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2019

This post was created by the Microsoft Customer Stories team and was originally posted on https://customers.microsoft.com

Egress helps customers manage risk and maintain privacy when sharing unstructured data both internally and externally. Our AI-powered security platform enables customers to share content of many different types, including sensitive documents, emails, and media files (audio and video), that requires the highest levels of security to be applied when sharing it. The sensitivity of information ranges from government classified emails and documents to a bank’s transactions and account information. How can you share it more securely? How can you use this data to collaborate with different organizations and geographies? Egress gives you a way to do that.

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Identifying suspicious activity

Unlike other products on the market, Egress wraps security around the user and manages their experience through machine learning. This user-centric approach helps individuals avoid potential mistakes, such as the accidental send, and provides security administrators with insight into behavioral anomalies across the business.

Anomalies generally come in two types. One is activity that falls outside of a user’s typical behavioral pattern. For instance, an employee might send an email to someone that he or she would normally have no reason to communicate with. Our AI-powered technology works behind the scenes in real time to establish sharing patterns and flag unusual activity as either a mistake or something to investigate. The other type is malicious activity. Egress might detect actions that stray from normal working patterns. For example, an email might originate from an employee’s account that has large attachments that don’t resemble typical documents.

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Choosing a smart cloud

We take advantage of the compute power of Microsoft Azure to apply our proprietary AI technology to massive data sets. We are one of the few data security companies that combines AI and behavioral analysis to make sure that the right content gets sent only to authorized recipients. Egress applies the appropriate level of protection to any content, not just email messages and attachments but also other forms of unstructured data—any type of document that needs to be secured or shared digitally. Our solution meets a critical marketplace need.

With Azure, we’re able to provide the availability, uptime, service levels, and confidence that our customers demand. Another benefit is pay-as-you-go cost at scale. As our business volume increases, we pass the savings onto our customers. Finally, we needed to consolidate our hosting providers, and Azure was the strategic choice because so many of our enterprise customers trust and respect the Microsoft brand. Note that we do support other cloud platforms if needed.

Joining a mutually beneficial program

Egress joined Microsoft for Startups in early 2018 and received approval to participate in joint sales with Microsoft shortly after that—a remarkable achievement given the strict criteria Microsoft requires for that status. When we applied to the program, we reached out to the Microsoft team that runs Microsoft for Startups in the United Kingdom. Impressed by our solution, our growth, and positive feedback from the market (particularly our government customers), the team lead responded straight away, and he passed our application up the line.

Prosecuting a strategic deal

Our work with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) provides a great example of how the program has benefitted both Egress and Microsoft while bringing needed value to the customer. The CPS handles about 600,000 cases every year in the United Kingdom, many of which require processing of huge numbers of documents, closed circuit TV, and body-camera footage, along with tracking physical evidence. Until this year, CPS had no way to process all of this information digitally. Police forces were burning evidence onto CDs and DVDs and shipping them among agencies by couriers and the postal system. As a result, the CPS estimated there were about 500,000 discs that contained confidential information about court cases, witnesses, defendants, and more in circulation. These data-sharing methods were expensive, inefficient, and potentially dangerous, occasionally resulting in lost evidence.

CPS declared a “war on discs” and implemented digital processes that would permit safer exchange of evidence among the affected legal parties. They now upload the information into our content and file sharing platform, where it is analyzed and accessible to authorized personnel throughout the criminal justice system. The project is a work in progress, but initial reports are positive with departments reporting considerable cost savings and efficiency gains.

Also, before the project, CPS used a competing cloud platform but switched to Azure.

Growing business, growing sales

Egress has been jointly selling with Microsoft for only about three months. However, we have already generated more than GBP500,000 of annual contract value from high-consumption Azure customers. For example, we’ve given CPS a way to cost-effectively increase its cloud storage from 30 terabytes to 160 terabytes in six months using Azure SQL Database. Our relationship with Microsoft, our expertise, scalable IT resources, and value for the customer all come together.

As part of our participation in Microsoft for Startups, Egress has gained high external visibility and a close relationship with Microsoft. When our customers use our service, we all become more deeply integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem. And when the outside world sees such a strong bond between Egress and Microsoft, it instills trust in our brand. 

Perhaps the best benefit of Microsoft for Startups is gaining quick access to the right experts when we need other technical assistance or getting help to develop a marketing strategy. I cannot speak more highly of Microsoft for Startups.

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