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WatchDox purchase gives BlackBerry powerful security tools most enterprises sorely lack

by User Not Found | Apr 24, 2015

On April 21, BlackBerry announced plans to acquire Watchdox, a maker of enterprise content security and digital rights management (DRM) solutions, aimed at large businesses and customers in highly regulated industries. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but reports estimate the deal to be between $100M-$150M -- about a 10x multiple on WatchDox' revenues, which are estimated between $10-15M.

The deal puts BlackBerry squarely in the fast-growing mobile content and device security market — which is surging, as corporate data breaches continue to make headlines, and the names Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning remain front-of-mind for IT security professionals.

For the segments of the Mobile Device Security Markets WatchDox addresses, Strategy Analytics forecasts total revenue to grow at 19% over the next 4 years (from $1.8B in 2014 to $3.8B in 2018). Our survey shows that lost or stolen mobile devices containing corporate data is a concern for nearly two-thirds (65%) of enterprises. Yet, less than one-third (31%) of organizations support data encryption capabilities on personally-liable devices (which are the majority of smartphones and tablets used in enterprises).  

WatchDox provides three core product offerings around enterprise content security. It has enterprise file sync and share solution, similar to others on the market from box, Symantec, Citrix and others, however with an enhanced DRM capability allowing for very fine grained access controls and policies to be applied to individual pieces of content on the platform.

The other major product from WatchDox, and probably its best-known technology, is a secure document gateway and access management platform. This solution is one of the few successful examples of DRM products in enterprise. While past content management and DLP solutions have not lived up to the promise, what stocks was able to establish itself as a core technology for securing sensitive documents such as financial content, board room and executive level documents and content, and other sensitive corporate information. (It's used in 150 of the Fortune 1000). Most importantly, the solution allows for control of documents regardless of the device type or location of the end-user, making it a flexible security tool for businesses with a mix of corporate- and personal-liable mobile devices.

The WatchDox solution was also very open to integration. For instance, it can enforce policies associated with content identified by third-party DLP systems (such as Symantec and McAfee), and also work with security information and event management platforms to audit and track document usage and potential violation incidents.

Core capabilities of the platform include the ability to prevent printing, forwarding through e-mail, watermarking of content, and automated expiration/deletion of content. The system can also dictate what platforms sensitive information can be moved to, such as approved endpoint devices, and cloud platforms to SharePoint or public cloud storage solutions.

BlackBerry plans to offer WatchDox capabilities as an add-on service to BES 12. The addition of WatchDox brings two critical pieces to blackberries EMM portfolio: a competitive enterprise file sync and share platform, putting it on par with EMM competitors who may have won deals vs. BlackBerry in the past based this feature; and a differentiating enterprise DRM platform, which will help BlackBerry separate from competitors who either have to partner for this capability, or have inferior level of capabilities built into their platforms.

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