An Abnormal Vision: From AI-Powered Email Security to Fully AI-Automated Cybersecurity

Abnormal crossed the $100M ARR threshold in only four years, but we’re not stopping there. Here’s our vision for the future of AI-powered cybersecurity.
August 15, 2023

Talking to Abnormal customers is one of the most important things I do as CEO of Abnormal, as these conversations help shape the future of our company and the products we deliver. Throughout these discussions, there are largely two main themes: how AI will impact cybersecurity and how to most efficiently use security resources to deliver maximum value to the organization.

To me, the answer is the foundation Abnormal was built on—AI. Abnormal has always been an AI company, focusing first on solving the email security problem. But as we cross the $100M ARR threshold, we’re laser-focused on our long-term vision of creating a fully AI-automated security platform. Here’s why.

The Impact of AI on Business Today

Chatter around AI is everywhere these days, from your LinkedIn feed to your local news program, to the website of nearly every vendor. Every CIO and CISO that I have spoken to in the last year is focused on adopting AI as a central part of their cybersecurity strategy. The top strategy questions they’re being asked are twofold. First, “How are we using AI to improve our business?” and second, “How are we using AI to better protect our organization?”

AI will forever change the way people work. There is little denying that there are thousands of positive use cases for ChatGPT and similar generative AI tools—they can make employees more productive, automate repetitive tasks, and enable better experiences for customers. But at the same time, bad actors are also taking advantage of that same generative AI technology for their own gain.

In the same way that ChatGPT can be used to craft legitimate emails, it can also be used to craft malicious ones—like those that ask for fake invoice payments, updates to banking account numbers, or credentials. And due to the very nature of generative AI, these emails are likely to be indistinguishable from their real counterparts, void of the typos and grammatical errors that have become a common signal of attack.

Using Good AI to Stop Bad AI

As AI becomes more sophisticated and bad actors use it to create more attacks, the tools put in place to block them must also advance. We no longer live in a world where known-bad signals are good enough when it comes to cybersecurity—these signals are evolving by the minute, and traditional tools simply cannot keep up with the pace.

To truly combat the threat of AI, organizations must also use AI. This is what Sanjay and I knew five years ago when we started Abnormal Security, and it is a statement we continue to stand behind today. While we may not have known the exact way that AI would evolve or the speed at which it did, we knew that this moment would come, and that there needed to be a security solution available when it did.

For us, it was never just about email security—it was about the need for good AI to combat the use of bad AI. Email was simply the first place we knew AI could make an immediate impact, partially due to its ubiquity among organizations worldwide, and partially because existing technologies were never designed to stop the modern attacks we see today.

Unlike traditional email security solutions, the Abnormal platform takes a radically different approach to stopping email attacks. The unique API architecture ingests thousands of diverse signals to build a baseline of the known-good behavior of every employee and vendor in an organization based on communication patterns, sign-in events, and thousands of other attributes. It then applies advanced AI models and natural language processing to detect abnormalities in email behavior that indicate a potential attack. As a result, Abnormal can keep pace with new and emerging attack types, enabling us to block attacks even when they’re created by AI and lack the indicators of compromise that legacy tools rely on for detection.

This AI approach is what makes our email security platform the most effective one on the market and why more than 1000 customers trust us to keep their inboxes secure. Their belief in the power of AI and our unique approach to cybersecurity is what has enabled us to protect 12% of the Fortune 500 and reach $100 million in ARR in four years—making Abnormal the second fastest-growing cybersecurity company in the world behind Wiz. And while this is a milestone worth celebrating, Abnormal is just getting started.

Solving the Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage with AI

Today, Abnormal uses AI to auto-remediate millions of email attacks each month, mitigating $4 million in annual losses for the average customer. One consistent value driver that we hear from our customers, outside of better protection, is how much time they save by relying on Abnormal. What used to take an army of security personnel to wrestle manual processes across multiple dashboards in a secure email gateway can now be auto-remediated instantly through Abnormal’s AI-based email security platform.

Our customers have told us that in the past they needed 5-6 full-time employees to triage and remediate email attacks. But with our AI automation, they now have one person spending part of their time on email security. This result is savings of hundreds of hours per week, allowing security teams to focus on higher priority projects to better protect their company.

“As a 24/7 workforce, we can’t always be available when a threat comes in. Auto-remediation, and especially automatic lockout when someone’s account is compromised, are lifesavers for us. We can rest on the weekends and sleep at night, knowing that if something happens, Abnormal will prevent it.”
— Blaine Cartner, CIO, FranklinCovey

But with the advent of AI becoming mainstream in the threat landscape, the rise of generative AI has one major consequence for these teams: the volume of attacks is going to increase exponentially. This means that security teams will have to triage a higher volume of signals across an ever-growing SaaS app footprint, which ultimately implies that CISOs will need to hire more security personnel. Contrast this with the ongoing cybersecurity workforce gap of 3.4 million open positions. Even if security leaders are able to get budget approval, it is near impossible for them to find and hire the talent that they need.

So how do we ensure success for our customers? Complete AI-automated cybersecurity.

As we move into the next phase of growth, we’re focused on our vision of creating a complete AI-automated cybersecurity platform, with a super-human detection of security risks and fully autonomous incident investigation and response. By using AI to understand known-normal baselines across people, messages, applications, documents, and more, Abnormal will have the power to detect and remediate anomalous activity immediately—no matter the volume of attacks. This will ultimately alleviate the bandwidth and budget constraints on security leaders, and allow the security team to focus on higher-priority tasks.

This is a lofty vision, and we’re not there yet. But if I know anything about this company, it’s that we have the team, the knowledge, and the capability to create what was previously believed to be impossible. Reaching the $100 million milestone in four years is a testament to that.

As we celebrate this milestone and look toward the future, I’m so thankful for all of the customers who have trusted us to secure their inboxes, to the investors who believed in us, and to the employees—past and present—who made this moment possible. Abnormal wouldn’t be what it is without you. But we’re just getting started, and I can’t wait to show you what’s next.

Curious what made Abnormal so successful, so quickly? Request a demo today to see what our AI-native platform can do to solve the email security challenges facing your organization.

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