Dishing up security services

Symantec is gearing up its managed security services offerings and adding to its staff to address growing demands in the region and tackle Middle East specific attacks.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  October 14, 2007

Symantec, the global security and storage solutions provider, aims to make services almost 10% of its global revenues in the next few years. A good portion of that will come from managed security services (MSS) and as interest in security outsourcing grows in the region, the company is responding by expanding its base of offerings.

"MSS is a broad subject. We have seen that traditional services around firewall and intrusion prevention have been broadened to services even on desktops. Globally, we have seen huge growth around services such as vulnerability management, desktop management and intelligence. Significant growth in those areas and the coming together of many security elements are the most important trends we have seen," says Jeff Ogden, director - consulting in MENA for Symantec's global services.

Exporting data to foreign countries is not acceptable. Enterprises want to keep information behind their firewalls. That is one of the reasons for launching a service to store data locally.

Ogden, who is the global head of operation services practice, has recently moved from the UK. Operational service practice is the division that works on improving capabilities for the company including MSS, adding on antivirus management and improving intelligence services among others. Ogden underlines the importance of the Middle East region by stating that with his move, the core of what the company delivers will happen in the Middle East and the global team will come together every two years.

In the region in particular, the company has seen growth in firewall, IPS and perimeter management and expects more growth in the near future. According to Ogden, to address this growth better a 12 member team has been built over two years in the region and this is expected to double in the next six months.

"Bringing together information from the perimeter with internal information, along with managing access and authentication are huge growth areas. In other words, who is logging onto what system in your environment both illegally and legally. We are also seeing things like log management coming up. This is where logs of information are collected, stored and secured, enabling retrieval of information. Symantec has recently launched a log management service as part of MSS," says Ogden.

While most MSSPs do collect logs regularly, none of these were stored for archival or retrieval purposes for long periods of time. However, three key factors are driving this new trend of maintaing logs - compliance, understanding trends and localising data.

"Compliance is a driver especially in more mature markets. Then there is the use of the information for analysing attack trends and what attacks were trying to do. Another critical element in the region is that the service will help keep data local instead of the practice where many MSSPs export data for storage," says Ogden.

He agrees that there are many Middle East enterprises who are still reluctant to take the route of outsourcing. However, ensuring that information and data from an organisation is kept within its network will help Symantec overcome that hurdle.

"Symantec addresses these issues based on customer requirements. Exporting data to foreign countries, especially in the public sector, is not acceptable. Enterprises want to keep information behind the perimeter, behind their own firewalls. That is one of the key reasons for launching a service to store data locally. Some organisations which prefer to keep security in-house have trouble finding qualified personnel. We help with our technology, aid in building their local operations and even train their staff to ensure they are qualified. Additionally we help with processes as well. Having robust processes is part of offering MSS and we can provide customers with a complete framework of processes for running a security operations centre (SOC). In these ways, our customers can draw upon the experience that we have developed as a service provider over the last six years. We can help them move to their goal of better security in a much faster and more efficient manner," says Ogden.

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