Today, Jamf announced the acquisition of Digita Security, a small, fairly recent startup focused on (what else) Mac endpoint security.
While we haven’t focused much on third-party security products specifically for Macs, there are some interesting dynamics at play. So, to learn more about today’s news, we got on the phone with Patrick Wardle, co-founder of Digita Security, and Jake Mosey, VP of corporate development for Jamf.
MacOS management and security is in an interesting place right now as it’s a bit of a moving target. For years, Macs had the reputation in some circles (rightly or wrongly) of not needing third-party security solutions.
But, that hasn’t really lined up with reality.
Sure, many Mac users remained safe, but, of course, there are threats and things do happen. Macs, often, escaped from being targeted by attackers due to their smaller market share compared to Windows. Of course, Mac AV, monitoring, and EDR tools have been around for years, but they just didn’t get much attention.
The situation is changing as Mac adoption continues to grow in the enterprise, making it a more attractive target for malicious attacks. With more enterprises deploying Macs, they’re coming under more scrutiny. While smaller numbers of Macs might fly under the radar of in-house security teams, large deployments mean more attention and management. (Gartner, too, recommends thinking about EPP and EDR in the enterprise.)
At the same time, Apple is in the midst of a several-year-long process of taking a desktop OS and making it something much more like a mobile OS (see examples: Gatekeeper, notarization requirements, adding more permissions, moving developers away from kernel extensions). Still, there’s a lot more room in macOS than in iOS for third-party security tools to get in there and do things. Even as older techniques, like kernel extensions, go away, there are new frameworks, like the EndpointSecurity framework being introduced.
Plus, threats don’t go away, they just change—for example, we’ve seen app reputation and phishing become key in the latest attacks.
Jamf right now
Jamf has been growing like crazy, with this being their third acquisition in the span of less than a year. In November 2018, they bought NoMAD, which became part of Jamf Connect, and in February 2019, snapped up Zuludesk, a Mac EMM focused on education use cases.
Jamf said that customers have been asking for more security tools, hence the buy.
Digita Security overview
The Mac-focused security vendor was founded in 2017 by Patrick Wardle (CRO), Jonathan Malm (CTO), and Joshua Stein (CEO). According to Patrick, the trio have been together for a long time; LinkedIn shows they have worked together at places like the NSA, Vulnerability Research Labs, and IronNet Cybersecurity.
Digita’s main product is GamePlan, which is an endpoint protection solution that is behavior based, rather than signature based, to look for and flag suspicious activity. One cool aspect is that Digita uses the macOS gaming engine GameplayKit to process logic. Patrick emphasized that Digita’s approach is very Mac-like; for example, GamePlan works in user space, instead of KEXTs like many other security tools, leaving them unaffected by macOS Catalina’s upcoming changes. So, while other vendors might be scrambling to adapt, Digita Security is already looking to leverage 10.15’s Endpoint Security framework.
Digita also has a couple other tools, UXProtect and Do Not Disturb. UXProtect provides IT with some insight into the latest XProtect changes, such as blocked malware signatures. Do Not Disturb is an iOS and macOS app that notifies users if someone physically accesses their macOS device.
Future plans for Digita and Jamf
Jamf’s go-to-market with Digita Security will follow their other recent buys, with GamePlan being rebranded as a Jamf product. It will be available for Jamf customers to buy standalone or as an addition to other management platforms. Expect a more formal announcement later this year.
All five of Digita’s employees joined Jamf, with this being their first week as official employees. No other terms of the acquisition were disclosed.
Digita Security was in pretty early stages, but joining Jamf gives them access to the latter’s customer base, which these days is quite large.
Patrick said he’s looking forward to keeping up community involvement (you can hear him on this episode of MacAdmins podcast).