Earlier this week, SentinelOne announced that it will reimburse customers for up to $1 million if they are hit by a ransomware attack, but some experts say that this is a marketing gimmick and no replacement for a solid cyberinsurance policy.
"It’s good that they are standing behind the capability of their product with this guarantee," said Mike Buratowski, vice president of cybersecurity services at Fidelis Cybersecurity. "The guarantee program is a novel idea with some credibility to it, however there is also a bit of marketing gimmickry in it as well."
The $1 million payout, for example, would only come into play if a thousand user machines were affected, all running the latest version of the SentinelOne software, and if the ransom for each machine was $1,000 or more.
"In the majority of cases we have handled at victimized companies, there are less than a dozen machines," he said.
And while SentinelOne can cover the cost of the ransom itself, there's no way it can guarantee that the attacker will actually follow through and release the data.
"Hats off to Sentinel One on a brilliant marketing move," said Nathan Burke, vice president of marketing at security vendor Hexadite. "If you're already a SentinelOne customer, this is a very nice new benefit. You at least get some reimbursement if you have to pay ransom, which is better than nothing. For companies evaluating endpoint detection and response products, this campaign certainly gives SentinelOne a unique competitive advantage, but they should be aware of the caveats and requirements of the guarantee."
Mike Buratowski, vice president of cybersecurity services at Fidelis Cybersecurity
"Yes, it is a marketing spin, but it is working as we are talking about it," said James LaPalme, vice president of cloud solutions at WinMagic.
But the publicity around this offer might actually have an unwanted negative effect, he added.
"Ransomware will only exist as long as people are willing to pay," he said. "This insurance highlights that people will be paying, which will only contribute to more ransomware."
Guarantee limited to just one device
The SentinelOne guarantee is for up to $1,000 for the device infected by ransomware.
"But the problem stretches far beyond that," said David Gibson, vice president of strategy and market development at Varonis Systems. "Ransomware attacks often start on one PC, but quickly branch out and do damage across the network, encrypting terabytes of files on NAS devices and file shares. We see these severe attacks all the time and they’re the costliest to recover from.”
SentinelOne's doesn't cover this, he said.
"The guarantee seems like a boastful testament to the quality of their software, but in reality they aren’t taking any real risks," he said.
Cyberinsurance typically offers much better coverage than does the SentinelOne guarantee.
"The cost of a breach can far surpass the ransom amount being requested," said Jerry Irvine, CIO at Prescient Solutions. "Additionally, the limit of the damage is not just your encrypted files. Hackers who have breached your systems to encrypt them also have the ability to obtain all personally identifiable information and access your other accounts and systems, and even steal your identity."
Cyberinsurance also covers other types of attacks, not just ransomware.
"Ransomware is on the rise, but it's certainly not, on its own, a million-dollar problem, but rather an important component of a continuum of threats,” said Kevin O’Brien, co-founder and CEO at cloud security vendor GreatHorn.
Every company should have a decent cyber insurance policy as part of its risk management plan, said Yong-Gon Chon, CEO at Cyber Risk Management LLC.
"A ransomware guarantee from a product vendor is more confidence marketing than insurance," he said.
In addition, companies looking to protect themselves against ransomware should also have good data backups, and process restoring from those backups on a regular basis.
KnowBe4 matches SentinelOne, and raises
SentinelOne isn't the only security vendor offering a ransomware guanratee.
KnowBe4 has been offering a similar guarantee since 2014, and at no extra cost to the customer.
The SentinelOne offer is a copycat, said KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman.
"It would have been worth it if it was part of the actual sales price, the way KnowBe4 does it," he added. "If you add 5 bucks per user, it's just another form of cyber-insurance."
On Friday, KnowBe4 raised the amount of its guarantee from $500 to $1,000 per infected device.
"There has to be a cap, as currently the bad guys are negotiating skyrocketing ransoms," Sjouwerman said.
For years, security vendors have been selling product that promise effective protection, with no repercussions is they don't deliver, said Tomer Weingarten, CEO at SentinelOne.
"We’d like to change the industry by having multiple vendors back their products," he said. "Imagine if a customer had endpoint security, firewalls, email security and web security, all backed by a guarantee. We are in conversations with several vendors and have publicly offered to share the warranty framework with any vendor confident in their product’s detection."