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BoxWorks 2021 - Box targets ransomware as it sets out its stall to be the content layer for digital teamwork

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright October 6, 2021
Box burnishes its security and data protection credentials with anti-ransomware AI and other product updates for its annual BoxWorks conference

BoxWorks graphic
(via Box)

Enterprise content teamwork vendor Box is targeting ransomware in its latest set of product updates, announced to coincide with the opening of its annual BoxWorks virtual event later today. Along with Box Shield's new AI-powered deep scanning to automatically detect and isolate malware, there is a big refresh to the mobile UI, enhanced integrations across the platform with Microsoft, Slack and Zoom, and a new version of the Box Notes team document format, bringing richer editing and collaboration.

The overall message, which encompasses the recently introduced Box Sign e-signature capability, presents Box as the digital content layer that enterprises can rely on to share and manage content throughout their organization and beyond, while retaining full control over who sees what. In a world where most organizations are using multiple tools for digital teamwork, Box aims to provide a single source of truth for enterprise content. Diego Dugatkin, who became SVP Product earlier this year after joining from Adobe, explains:

The benefit of having the content cloud with Box is that you can work in environments where you have hybrid solutions, that you're not forced to use only one. So in a company where you may choose to use Zoom or Slack, in addition to working with Microsoft [or Google], you can work perfectly with Box without having to choose one vendor only.

Deep scanning in Box Shield

The new deep scanning capability in Box Shield, planned for general release later this year, taps deep learning to recognize malicious traits inside content as users upload, update, view, share or otherwise move it. The software automatically either clears the file or quarantines it, while allowing users to continue their work, with the ability to view the content of quarantined files. Admins can also override threat verdicts for low-risk content to avoid disrupting business workflows. The technology supplements the existing scanning that Box Shield already applies to some 48 billion files each year. Dugatkin says:

It adds deep learning technology into the traditional hash-based approach to malware detection, or file fingerprint scanning approaches, that are simplistic ... We provide customers with an additional layer of security that looks at everything that is inside the file to identify the malware in a secure environment. The outcome is that customers have a higher malware detection rate and fewer false positives.

With this feature, customers can still preview files and get work done, even if the file has been quarantined, so you get access to the content without risking the rest of your assets. And from there, IT teams can easily tackle and override the issue if they determine that something is not malicious.

Other announcements for Box Shield include extensions to auto-classification, which uses machine learning to label sensitive files based on the content they contain, and more detailed alerts, powered by machine learning, for anomalous user behavior such as suspicious downloads.

Integration and workflow

The Box mobile app has had a significant refresh, which becomes available to users today. This adds an updated Capture Mode, OCR capabilities, and an all-new user experience for iPad UX user.

Enhanced integrations to leading digital teamwork tools reinforce Box's credentials as a single source of content serving the best-of-breed app ecosystem. The big three announced today are:

  • Microsoft — real-time co-authoring of Office documents in Box will be available on desktop and mobile from early 2022. Currently this is only supported in the web-based Office Online. By the end of this year, Box will become a storage option directly from Teams. There are also more granular administration options coming to help streamline deployment and speed user adoption.
  • Slack — deeper integration makes Box a content layer available directly from Slack, simplifying content processes while maintaining Box security.
  • Box App for Zoom — available today, this gives access to Box content directly from Zoom, with the ability to browse, preview and share files. There's also a new one-click option to select and present a Box file to all attendees in a Zoom meeting.

Finally an all-new Box Notes will debut in January next year, adding richer editing features such a table of contents and anchor links, call-out boxes and code blocks to highlight key content, and enhanced table capabilities. New collaboration features include in-line cursors and simplified navigation. Box Notes originally launched in 2013 as a collaborative editing tool — similar to Dropbox Paper and Salesforce Quip — which teams can use to track work and organize assets in a Box folder.

The company is also highlighting Box Sign, which rolls out to users later this month in US and Canada. It provides a strong use case for Box's workflow and content management credentials, including its sophisticated security and permissions infrastructure. Sebastien Marotte, who became President EMEA at Box after almost ten years at Google Cloud, explains:

After the signing of the document, it's really about making sure that this document can only be accessed by those people who are allowed to access [it]. Then you have to classify this document, you have to, again, automate [the process], you have to do a lot of things. And this is really the workflow that Box is offering on top of this content management platform.

In company news, today sees the launch of the Box Impact Fund, with a call for applications to a first tranche of four $25k grants being made available to non-profits focused on child welfare and crisis response.

My take

Box opens its annual conference today in apparently confident mood, having shaken off the attempted coup led by activist investor Starboard Value, which was defeated in a shareholder vote last month. There's no need for Box to offer some grand vision for the future of hybrid work or other buzzword-laden mission statements, just careful attention to continuing to build its credentials as the trusted cloud platform for enterprise content.

That's still an ambitious goal to achieve. If Box can establish itself as the default content layer for all digital teamwork apps, its place in the collaborative canvas of enterprise teamwork will be assured. Today's announcements confirm its single-minded focus on working towards that goal.

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