Securing the network

Managed network security services provide a key revenue opportunity for resellers and can offer relief for customers that may not have the expertise or resources to take on the essential network defence tasks in house.

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Securing the network
By  Piers Ford Published  November 28, 2014

Network security is a challenge which just keeps on growing for businesses of every type and size. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets means that it is increasingly difficult to secure the traditional corporate network physically. Add to that a general shift to cloud computing – often in a hybrid infrastructure – plus a noticeable trend for cyber-criminals to target key individuals as their main way of attacking corporate data, and the fight against network compromise starts to look very difficult and expensive.

In this environment, where conventional firewalls are no longer enough to withstand the onslaught of a threat that is constantly changing into new, stealthier forms, the appetite for managed network security services that remove the weight off the CIO’s shoulders is likely to be insatiable. The market is full of opportunities for resellers and service providers prepared to take on the complexities of managed network security.

“Modern malware is all about stealth,” said Chris Kraft, VP network security group at Sophos. “Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), one of the most vicious examples of a stealth threat, precisely target individuals, businesses, governments and their data. APTs are a sophisticated weapon to carry out targeted missions in cyber space. Data leaks – including espionage and exposure of corporate data – will also be a primary going theme.”

Kraft said that perforation of the network perimeter is another key emerging threat. Mobile devices and the possibility to access company data from nearly everywhere challenge IT security teams with constantly changing conditions.

Nicolai Solling, director of technology services at specialist service provider Help AG, suggested that while there have not yet been any large global attacks on mobile platforms, the countdown to the first such event is on as mobile devices grow in processing power and functionality.

Meanwhile, APTs and Zero-day attacks remain major regional concerns that go beyond end-point security – as do insider threats and social engineering attacks: factors that depend as much on policy implementation as they do on technology.

“As information security becomes more complex, organisations are finding themselves unable to manage security competence in-house and will need to outsource this competence,” said Solling.

“We saw a huge gap in the market precisely because of this and it enabled us to expand our offerings and establish a Security Analysis division. We now offer essential services such as security review, penetration testing, configuration architecture review, vulnerability assessment (including mobile platforms) and social engineering and exploitation,” explained Solling.

In this climate, Help AG believes the market has come of age regarding managed services in the Middle East.

Customer research has revealed that concerns about data confidentiality, integrity and data location have inhibited managed service adoption. Help AG’s response has been to build a localised framework that aligns resources with appropriate security policies, localised data storage and its own in-house expertise.

“The managed security services market is growing in the region as organisations realise that it enables them to bring in competences that they lack or to replace functions or processes that incurred huge recurring costs,” said Maya Zakhour, channel director at network security specialist Fortinet.

“Technology has always played the role of a disruptive force that somehow connects, discontinues and changes business models, ecosystems or even the world order. Paradoxically, it has sometimes created a level playing field and at times unfair advantages for some countries or enterprises. Hence the network security and services channel will need to change its business model with the new threats, but this will only bring room for innovation.”

In other words, Zakhour believes that the challenge will pave the way for the channel to innovate. And if the complex picture painted by Joseph Tsai, regional manager at broadband network equipment vendor DrayTek is accurate, that ability to innovate will be crucial.

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