eCompany signs up Symantec

Local solutions provider looks to harden its offerings by entering into a strategic partnership with Symantec.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  January 23, 2005

|~|eCompan_m.jpg|~|“Security is of utmost importance to our users. Signing this alliance with Symantec is the first step towards a fruitful partnership which will deliver real value to our customers.” - Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, general manager of eCompany.|~|eCompany has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with security vendor Symantec to further protect the internet services and e-business solutions offered by the firm. eCompany is the ICT solutions business unit for United Arab Emirates (UAE) telco Etisalat. “Security is of utmost importance to our users,” says Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, general manager of eCompany. “Signing this alliance with Symantec is the first step towards a fruitful partnership which will deliver real value to our customers,” he adds. The MOU is focused on discussing how eCompany can better formulate an internet security plan and better fulfill its business aims. In discussion with eCompany, Symantec identified a shift in the motives of cyber attackers from seeking to make a point to seeking to make money and an increase in phishing attacks as important security trends eCompany should be tackling. As well as providing advice on these issues, the vendor is emphasising the importance of security awareness and early warning capabilities. The consultation is particularly timely, with two IT security bills set to come into law in the UAE in 2005. The first is an e-commerce bill that will seek to tackle issues such as phishing and the other is a complementary cybercrime bill, which will define punishments for these kind of offences. Although the relationship is in early stages, eCompany will look to build Symantec technology into its offering. The provider singled out Symantec due to the vendor’s broad product portfolio, which has grown further with the recent acquisition of Veritas. With Symantec, eCompany can use technology to tailor solutions to a wide variety of users from consumers to the largest corporates, as well as enable knowledge transfer on these areas. The solutions firm has not yet worked out a payment model but the deal could see Symantec security solutions being made available to premium customers free of charge with basic users following a pay for use model. The mention of early warning capabilities could be especially significant in the light of managed security services (MSS). eCompany sees MSS as an area for huge potential growth in the region and Symantec could help eCompany fill gaps in its skill set and allow it to further develop solutions for this market. eCompany arguably has the skills to deliver all aspects of an MSS solution, apart from providing early warning of threats. Symantec, with its worldwide network of security operations centres (SOCs) is better placed to fulfill this constant monitoring and early warning role. “We see huge potential for MSS in the region, with pressure from regulations such as Basel II encouraging this. However, awareness on the one hand and the threat level on the other are currently inhibiting factors,” says Julfar. Symantec also sees managed services as a potential growth area and also agrees that the concept has so far gained little traction in the region. “MSS is still a new industry globally but it is growing,” says Kevin Isaac, regional director for Symantec Middle East & Africa. “It’s like banks outsourcing the moving of cash from branch to branch to a specialised security company. Outsourcing is necessary because the bank realises that this is not their core competency,” he adds. While MSS remains a challenge in the region, there is no doubt that eCompany is one of the few entities in the region that could claim to have the resources and integrity to make a sustained push in this field. The partnership between the two companies is not exclusive and eCompany is free to deploy products from other vendors. “Symantec, with its advisor head, would advise eCompany not to go with one security vendor exclusively,” explains Isaac.||**||

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