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Forward-thinking security: BullGuard’s CEO Paul Lipman on cybersecurity during COVID-19

In what can be an overcrowded market, BullGuard has firmly secured itself as an important security vendor. With an attractive revenue share programme, and an ability to identify emerging markets and create security solutions tailored to those sectors, the cybersecurity company has proved that its finger is firmly on the pulse of the tech and IT channel.

At the PCR Awards 2020, BullGuard took home not only the award for Software & Services Vendor of the Year, but was also named Company of the Year.

PCR caught up with BullGuard’s CEO Paul Lipman to find out why endpoint security and VPNs could become mandatory for remote workers, what partners can expect if they join its Advantage Programme, and why the cybersecurity company has been so busy during the current COVID-19 crisis.

How has the past year been for BullGuard and how is the company doing amid the current crisis?

BullGuard has had a record year in terms of channel revenue and customer and partner growth. Being awarded both PCR ‘Company of the Year’ and ‘Software and Services Vendor’ has underlined BullGuard’s ongoing commitment to our channel partners as we have continued to support and serve the industry. The recognition is testament to our leading revenue share programme, which can make a huge contribution to our partners’ bottom line, and our unwavering dedication to developing award-winning cybersecurity solutions for consumers and small businesses with regular enhancements and new features.

As hackers raise their game so must BullGuard. With the onslaught of cyber threats during this pandemic, targeting unsuspecting online users in their masses, the importance of internet protection is greater than ever before. With BullGuard 2020, we introduced advanced machine learning into our products to identify and block sophisticated zero-day attacks and new types of malware. Machine learning adds another layer of effective protection for our customers, bolstering our award-winning multi-layered security technologies.

Secure Browsing has also been incorporated into BullGuard Internet Security and BullGuard Premium Protection, adding yet another powerful new defence layer. Our bespoke Secure Browser protects users from vulnerable and malicious browser extensions, and safeguards against increasingly common attack methods specifically directed at browsers.

Another significant development from BullGuard is the launch of BullGuard Small Office Security. This new, powerful, cloud-managed endpoint security service for the small business market addresses a gap in the market and meets an urgent need.

Cybersecurity solutions for small offices are typically too complex and challenging for businesses to deploy and use because they are re-engineered from legacy enterprise solutions designed for organisations with thousands of users. This typically means that many small businesses do not protect themselves at all or try and manage each device individually which is difficult, time-consuming and ineffective.
Added to this, small businesses are more vulnerable to cyberattacks, given that cybercriminals are increasing their attention to the small office space due to the fact that these companies are typically not as well protected as their enterprise counterparts. The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly brought this issue into even sharper focus.

In terms of operating during this crisis, we have been extremely busy. As a forward-thinking security company, our employees are well equipped to securely work from home, but for many businesses, who are perhaps also grappling with economic uncertainty, it has been an extraordinary and difficult time, and we have stepped in to fill the breach and help lighten the load of customers by meeting their cybersecurity needs.

What products are you focusing on at the moment?

BullGuard Small Office Security and BullGuard VPN are very much in high demand and we are ensuring that our customers and partners are able to take advantage of them.

For instance, in early April we began offering a free, three-month minimum BullGuard Small Office Security license in order to provide small businesses assistance with managing their cybersecurity in the wake of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The free offer comes with no financial obligations and small businesses do not need to submit any form of credit card payment information to obtain the license. Given the sudden mass migration of millions of employees to working from home, this is how we identified we could immediately help, and the response from the market has been very positive.

Many small companies are vulnerable to being compromised by cybercriminals who are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic with predatory instinct. We want small business owners to understand that cybersecurity isn’t dauntingly complex, in fact, it can be simple and powerfully effective.

And of course, BullGuard VPN is an important focus for us. A few months ago, many people thought VPNs were technically esoteric and complex and something they didn’t need. Today they better understand and appreciate how a VPN can provide online privacy and internet freedom.

BullGuard took home two awards at this year’s PCR Awards. How did it feel to win and why do you think you were picked over the competition?

It was an honour to have received the ‘Software and Services Vendor of the Year’ and fantastic for us to know that we are delivering services and products that our partners both appreciate and really benefit from. To also receive ‘Company of the Year’ was truly overwhelming. The PCR Awards are held with the highest esteem within our industry, and as such, we are truly humbled that our hard work and dedication is recognised.

I think one of the main reasons we were chosen is because as a company we never standstill. We work hard to identify emerging market opportunities and create cybersecurity that is tailored to the needs of specific sectors.

At the same time, we are committed and dedicated to our channel partners. Their success is our success, which is why we continuously offer top incentives and rewards to thank our partners for their ongoing support for the BullGuard brand. We also recognise that operating conditions can be tough for resellers and retailers and so providing hands-on partner support and customer satisfaction is extremely important and sets us apart.

What are some of the latest cyber threats you’ve seen occur during the increase in working (and schooling) from home?

Where do you start? A flood of scams under the cover of Covid-19 has been released by cybercriminals and they are unlikely to abate any time soon. Cybercriminals have crafted phishing emails that use every possible angle relating to the virus, whether it’s ‘information’ or the sale of hand sanitizer and masks, causing the number of phishing campaigns to grow significantly during the pandemic.

We’ve seen Android apps that claim to provide access to real-time virus-tracking and information. There has been a huge spike in phishing scams targeting students and people working from home. Emails purporting to be from a student’s university or an employer urging the recipient to log on to their OneDrive or Office365 account, many claiming to provide updates about the coronavirus.

These emails, and malicious websites, hide malware that is typical of an attacker’s arsenal, ranging from banking trojans and ransomware to spyware that steals passwords and login details. It’s a feeding frenzy out there and the piranhas are biting more wildly than ever. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to end anytime soon.

BullGuard says it is currently looking to recruit new partners for Small Office Security. Can you tell us a bit about why this is so important as many employees continue to work remotely in the UK?

Imagine you own a small law firm or accountancy practise. Your people are out and about every day, working from home, hot-desking, travelling up and down the country. Some are using computers from the company’s pool, others are using their own, for example, a laptop at home. How do you secure each device, how do you update each device, how do you lock down a device if it is lost or stolen? What do you do if a home user’s computer is infected with malware and they log onto the company network and a threat attempts to infiltrate the network?

You might not realise what has happened until your client’s hacked information is used to carry out fraud or you are hit with a ransomware infection and the business goes down. This is why centralised device security provided by BullGuard Small Office Security is so important. You can update and manage all devices centrally, even users’ own devices, protect all of them at the same time, isolate a stolen or lost device, and all from an easy to use cloud dashboard.

A recent survey we conducted highlighted a lack of dedicated business cybersecurity among small businesses, many choosing to install free, consumer security products, which simply do not cut it. As our recent accolades demonstrate, our route to market through our partners is extremely successful, and we aim to give even more partners the tools they need to help as many small businesses as possible to adopt the best cyber protection, especially while they face and tackle the ever-emerging threats targeting mobile workforces which have accelerated during the current situation.

Have you seen an increase in demand for your products as more people and businesses create proper working from home setups?

In April of last year, we launched BullGuard VPN and there is certainly an increased demand and also much greater awareness among small businesses about the need for cybersecurity. As such, a lot of our endeavours have not only been about delivering cybersecurity but also about providing educational input and ensuring that we can meet the needs of our channel partners who are certainly experiencing a significant uptick in demand.

What benefits can partners expect if they join your Advantage Programme?

They become members of an industry-leading programme that provides first-class support and substantial financial rewards. Over €19 million in revenue share has been paid to channel partners since 2010 through a 25% share of online revenue from all renewals for the life of the product. With over 85% of customers repeatedly renewing their license, this is a significant income generator for partners.

What does BullGuard have planned for the rest of the year and beyond?

Homeworking isn’t going to go away any time soon, if anything it is likely to become even more common. We are preparing for this shift in the landscape. If endpoint security and VPNs aren’t already being used, they could likely become mandatory in some workplaces and for remote workers. Attackers understand that many people have poor awareness of cybersecurity and what they need to protect themselves, so even as the pandemic recedes, the threats won’t diminish, they will just take another form. We are continuously adjusting to help safeguard small businesses and home users in the future, ever ready to react to unexpected circumstances that fuel cyber-attacks.

Technology has never before played such a vital and significant part in our everyday lives, so it is important to ensure that it is working correctly. Our devices are helping us to be entertained, remain productive, and to stay in touch with loved ones and friends while we can’t be physically close. It is BullGuard’s mission to continue to deliver the very best in cybersecurity so that people can go about their everyday lives, enjoying the use of technology for work and play without having to worry about cybercriminals trying to steal their identities, financial data or company information. We appreciate that people have enough to be getting on with and to think about, and with BullGuard security and privacy products, we aim to eliminate this burden.

This article is part of PCR’s Security Sector Spotlight – in association with 

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