Ukrainian flag.
Photo: Ayhan Altun via Getty Images

All quiet on the cyberfront

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: why fears of a broad Russian cybersecurity offensive have yet to materialize, Salesforce plans a pause in big M&A activity and bioscientists have a new data-analysis option that speaks their language.


Spin up

Ransomware is having a profound effect on businesses operating around the world, and the problem is getting worse. According to CyberRisk Alliance Intelligence, 43% of companies reported experiencing a ransomware attack in the last two years, and 58% paid a ransom.

Shields up, now what

For as much of a human disaster as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been over the past week, fears of a wider cyberwar that might affect businesses and organizations around the world have yet to come to pass.

It’s been only a week since CISA issued its “Shields Up!” warning to U.S. businesses, urging them to update their cybersecurity posture in anticipation of a wave of offensive hacking directed by groups operating on behalf of the Russian government that have wreaked havoc around the world in more peaceful times. But as the Washington Post reported Monday evening, at least so far, the global cybersecurity fallout has been muted.

Even Ukraine’s cybersecurity infrastructure appears to be in fairly good shape as of Tuesday afternoon, despite the spread of some data-wiping malware last week.

  • “It’s certainly not what anyone predicted,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, the Russian-born co-founder and former CTO of CrowdStrike, a longtime cybersecurity expert with deep ties to the region, according to the Post.
  • The consensus appears to be that Russian president Vladmir Putin expected to take control of Ukraine much more quickly than has actually transpired, and therefore wanted to leave communications networks intact.
  • That situation could change at any moment, but functioning internet and mobile phone networks have allowed Ukraine to get its own messages out to the world with surprising regularity and to great effect, as Platformer’s Casey Newton pointed out yesterday.

If anything, hackers and cybersecurity activists working on behalf of Ukraine have the upper hand so far.

  • Ukrainian officials asked the cybersecurity community for help last week and they have responded: Reuters reported Monday that a hacking group plans to strike at Russian infrastructure targets in retaliation for the invasion.
  • And an anonymous hacker leaked a treasure trove of personal and operational data surrounding Conti, a notorious ransomware group linked to the Russian government.
  • Some of the biggest U.S. companies with cybersecurity operations, including Microsoft, are making it clear that they intend to help defend Ukraine and other countries against Russian hackers.

But it’s far too soon to let down your guard, especially if the military invasion continues to stall, experts warned.

  • “Do I expect Russia to up its game on cyber? Absolutely,” said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia on Monday, according to DefenseOne.
  • As the economic effect of sanctions continues to ripple through the Russian economy, the incentive for Russia to retaliate against the global economy only increases.
  • And there are just so many weak targets around the world to exploit, given gaps in timely patching of software vulnerabilities and a lack of interest in basic safety precautions.

— Tom Krazit (email | twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM HASHICORP

At HashiCorp, we believe infrastructure enables innovation. We help teams operate that infrastructure in the cloud. Organizations rely on our solutions to provision, secure, connect, and run their business-critical applications. Our products provide multi-cloud infrastructure automation, and underpin some of the most important applications for the world’s largest enterprises.

Learn more

Salesforce might not save your big SaaS company this year

Coming off another strong quarter, Salesforce has no “near-term” plans for large acquisition deals, according to co-CEOs Marc Benioff and Bret Taylor. Instead, the company wants to focus on integrating recent acquisitions such as Tableau, Mulesoft and Slack.

Salesforce continued to show its characteristic growth, exceeding expectations with fiscal year revenue of $26.49 billion, up 25% year-over-year. The company also raised its revenue guidance for the upcoming fiscal year to $32.1 billion.

Combined, the Tableau and Mulesoft data business grew 23.5% year-over-year, and Mulesoft was part of some of Salesforce’s largest deals last quarter, Taylor said. The acquisition of Mulesoft started off rocky, and although Salesforce is now starting to “realize the benefits of the go-to-market organizational changes we implemented last year,” according to CFO Amy Weaver, the company still expects slow returns.

For Salesforce right now, however, it’s all about Slack. The company’s integration of Slack “remains our top priority as a management team,” said Taylor. “We don’t have any plans for material M&A in the near term — Slack is our focus.”

Benioff reiterated that message, calling Slack the “most strategic initiative in the company,” and one that is going to take quite some time for the company to digest. “I don't really see us doing any kind of strategic acquisition for some time until we can get our hands fully around Slack,” he said.

That doesn’t rule out all M&A in the future, as Benioff also said the company “continues to look at tactical M&A.” SaaS startups looking at lower post-pandemic valuations might still want to give Salesforce a call.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)

Upcoming at Protocol

It’s never been easier to use multiple cloud providers for modern tech infrastructure needs, but should you use multiple cloud providers? Join our panel of experts tomorrow at 10 a.m. PT to hear more about the arguments for and against multicloud computing and how businesses should think about their options as the market evolves.

Protocol’s Tom Krazit will host the discussion featuring Priyanka Sharma, executive director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation; Paul Cormier, CEO, Red Hat; and David Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer, Deloitte. RSVP here.

Data science for the biosciences

Modern data analysis tools have delivered incredible value to those who understand how they can use the technology to unlock insights they would otherwise never uncover. Unsurprisingly, however, many of those tools were designed for data scientists and business IT professionals, rather than medical researchers.

In the grand tradition of SaaS — finding a niche and building the best product for that specific user — SciosHub wants bioscientists and medical researchers to have access to the same powerful data tools that business intelligence professionals run to try and upsell retail customers. It blends modern data storage capabilities with 3D visualization tools designed for the biosciences in hopes of enabling the types of medical breakthroughs that benefit us all.


— Tom Krazit (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

Don’t blink during tonight’s State of the Union address or you might miss Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger sitting in the First Lady’s box.

Baidu’s cloud business joined its rival Alibaba in reporting quarterly earnings strength that lifted an otherwise pedestrian performance by its parent company. That sounds familiar

Nvidia confirmed reports from last week that it was a victim of a cyberattack (unrelated to any Russian activity) and that corporate data had been leaked on the internet.

A MESSAGE FROM HASHICORP

At HashiCorp, we believe infrastructure enables innovation. We help teams operate that infrastructure in the cloud. Organizations rely on our solutions to provision, secure, connect, and run their business-critical applications. Our products provide multi-cloud infrastructure automation, and underpin some of the most important applications for the world’s largest enterprises.

Learn more

Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!

This newsletter was updated to reflect that CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch is the former CTO of the company.

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