Back to the future

The security arena has transformed in the region over the last year, and promises to become an increasing area of interest in the year to come.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  December 2, 2008

The security arena has transformed in the region over the last year, and promises to become an increasing area of interest in the year to come.

It is extremely difficult, if not entirely impossible, to find an area of IT that is as dynamic as security. The division of information technology, which deals with protecting an organisation from digital threats, can appear to be a constant cat and mouse game, as enterprises struggle to keep two steps ahead of individuals with malicious intent.

Over the last twelve months, the security market in the Middle East has grown exponentially on the back of the economic boom, which fuelled higher investments in infrastructure and related solutions. And with this spend has emerged distinct trends, in both the threat landscape, as well as how enterprises tend to deal with it.

There is a big evolution where we see delivery of security as a service, or software as a service, in the cloud. This is becoming more and more popular. So going forward, these delivery methods and other elements will affect the software and appliance market.

"Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report XIII issued in April this year shows a strong trend towards attackers compromising reputable websites with embedded malicious code that infects computers and sets them up as bots or zombies. Blended threats are also prevalent, integrating multiple attack methods such as worms, Trojan horses, and zero-day threats to obtain sensitive information. Many of these sophisticated threats can evade traditional security solutions, leaving organisations vulnerable to data theft and manipulation, disruption of business-critical services, and damage to corporate brand and reputation. To stay ahead of this emerging breed of stealthy and resilient security threats, the security industry has shifted its focus to infrastructure endpoint protection, which includes proactive security measures that can protect against zero-day attacks and unknown threats," says Bulent Teksoz, manager of systems engineering at Symantec in the region.

Greg Day, EMEA security analyst at McAfee Avert Labs says: "There has been a key focus on data breaches occurring around the globe and how businesses manage the issue.  This has been a focal point for many businesses as they look to understand their legal liabilities, as well as start to understand what and how they use data so they can define policies and implement effective controls to mitigate data breaches."

He believes that optimisation has been another key focus in 2008. As the scope of solutions required continues to expand businesses have been looking for operational efficiencies and integration points between the solutions they use, to both reduce costs and bring continuity to their particular security approach.

According to Day, IPS and data control tools were solution sets that many customers bought in 2008.

"Mainly there are two areas that have seen significant development in the last two years, the first being identity and access management, and the other DLP (data leakage prevention). There is a clear pattern emerging from the recent security incidents, that these incidents are aimed at committing financial fraud, unlike before. Industry has come to realise that there are mainly two areas which require maximum protection - user identities and data. Corporations today can utilise identity management technologies to cost-effectively manage and control the identity lifecycle, and demonstrate compliance more efficiently," says Sheik Abideen, business development manager at Paramount.

He adds that although DLP solutions were the most hyped in 2008, a lot more clarity was being seen in the space now. Apart from identity management and DLP, Abideen states that NAC, web application firewalls, IPS and encryption solutions invited a lot of investment in 2008.

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