Starlink hosts security roundtable in UAE
GM shares company's ‘non-traditional’ approach with ITP.net
Security VAD Starlink held its Security Advisory Summit in the Burj Al Arab in Dubai today. The summit is the latest in a series of Gulf ICT security quorums, each focusing on the global and regional threat landscape and each presenting varying philosophies and business focuses. Mahmoud Nimer, general manager Sales MEA, Starlink took time out from the seminar schedule to share the company's approach with ITP.net.
"Starlink does not provide traditional security solutions," Nimer explained. "This has been our approach from day one. We decided to look at next-generation security solutions because traditional ones don't meet today's challenges. But we do not replace the traditional infrastructure; instead our solutions complement it."
Starlink started out in the field of consultancy, giving bespoke evaluations of companies' infrastructure and action plans on how best to tackle security deficiencies.
"From our experience in security consultancy, where we would advise customers on what to do to protect their environment, we found that many customers could not find solutions to cover what we advised," said Nimer. "That is why, from 2005, we decided to focus on non-traditional solutions and today we have more than 15 products to [deliver those solutions]."
The Starlink offering, however, is tied up in the softer side of consultancy and Nimer pointed out that relationship-building is as important as the product suite.
"Technology is only one aspect of Starlink's delivery," he said. "We focus on quality of service. We are a value-added distributor; even though we have direct customer touch and partner touch, we built our technical capabilities around our products so we can give customers next-generation, niche services plus excellent quality of service."
Starlink plays in a market flooded with comment about every aspect of ICT security, coming from soothsayers and doom mongers alike. As security vendors have jostled for position in the battle for business they have, according to some surveys, met a spirit of denial and ignorance among corporate purse holders. Recent cyber attacks against Gulf enterprises have gone a long way towards changing this mindset, Nimer believes.
"What happened recently with the targeted attacks in the oil and gas sector opened minds to [the idea] of investing in security infrastructure, where they used to think they were secure because they had invested a lot of money," he said.
"The technology domain changes continuously and every day there is something new. Infrastructures need to be maintained to meet these challenges."
As Starlink engages with the market Nimer insists that scale of enterprise is irrelevant to the extant malware threat. The company has blended an approach of scalability of protection with constant vigilance towards the cyber malfeasance that affects all organisations.
"Our message, in terms of awareness is the same to small to medium businesses as it is to enterprises," he explained. "But from the technology point of view we have different levels of solutions for each. For small to medium businesses the solution must protect, but must also be cost-effective. So at Starlink we offer scalable solutions to cater to [every size of business]. Threats do not distinguish between business levels. Malware will affect everyone, small or large."
When pressed on what he thinks the gaps are in the current solutions on offer from vendors in the region Nimer is reticent to name names, but accepts that the deficiencies exist. Rather than step in as a fresh alternative and reinvent a business environment he prefers a different approach.
"Our solutions cover the gaps in the current solutions offered by other security vendors. Instead of competing with these vendors we complement their solutions," he reiterated. "We integrate with most traditional security infrastructures to close these gaps."
When asked for examples of the gaps, Nimer said there were many different types.
"With regard to zero-day attacks, there is a gap in the monitoring of the structure of data inside databases, which led to breaches in banks," he said.
It would be all too easy to become blinded by the sheer number of issues bearing down upon security professionals in the region, but another layer of complexity, which represents another of Nimer's gaps, exists that often is ignored. While worrying about the threats from cyber criminals, organisations of all scales can forget about another threat source.
"A new trend we are seeing is data being compromised by privileged users," Nimer reveals. "We used to always think only about external threats, hackers, but now we need to consider the internals, which involves the administrators and privileged users who have unlimited [access]. And their activities are not monitored and this represents a huge risk in the region.
"Abuse of these privileges has led to loss of money in banks and information leaks in government organisations. Some of these abuses are deliberate and some are by mistake. So one of the main challenges at the moment within the IT community is the monitoring auditing and controlling of privileged users' access."