Matt Percival, Director of Sales at Gigamon

Why channel partners must be Zero Trust allies

Matt Percival, Director of Sales at Gigamon, focuses on how channel partners can remain relevant in the new cybersecurity landscape by helping customers achieve Zero Trust.

Security has taken centre stage this year. The prevalence of WFH has caused new vulnerabilities in business networks and exacerbated known difficulties, leading to a sharpened focus on network detection and response. Nearly 85% of IT decision makers reported in our survey that cyberthreats have increased, with over half stating remote working is to blame. As a result, investments in cybersecurity are about to see a spike: over half UK companies plan to increase their security spend, while nearly 40% have vowed to consider security in every single business decision.

So, what does this mean for channel partners? It’s clear that, in order to succeed in this new landscape, they must understand their customers’ security challenges. Whether it be battling phishing attacks or preventing data breaches, partners need to be prepared to provide solutions and, crucially, expert advice on how to enhance protection, if they want to remain relevant and survive in this new landscape.

The growing importance of Zero Trust
Providing effective security support to customers means becoming familiar with different approaches to network protection. Channel partners cannot hope to win the security game without understanding and enabling Zero Trust. As the security threatscape becomes ever more intricate, many business leaders are thinking about implementing this architecture to prevent incidents and combat attacks: our own data shows 76% of IT decision-makers believe it would be unwise not to consider it in the current climate. And it’s not simply an idea floating around within CISO teams, Zero Trust is a core element of companies’ current or planned security strategies: two thirds of our respondents stated they are planning to adopt or are already adopting it.

But what does Zero Trust entail? In a Zero Trust network, no user or application on the network can be granted implicit trust. Rather than giving access based on credentials (which could overlook cybercriminals when they are impersonating legitimate users, having stolen their credentials, for example), a Zero Trust infrastructure analyses behaviour and determines access rights accordingly. This approach is even more crucial today, in the age of flexible working, than before: the network now extends to every single employee’s home, so it’s simply unsafe to operate as if every user or application is legitimate. That’s why businesses are gravitating towards it, and if channel partners want a piece of this pie, they must become useful allies to customers embarking on this journey.

The role of a trusted advisor
Zero Trust is not a new concept, it’s been discussed in the security industry for decades so simply knowing and mentioning this approach to customers is not going to get channel partners very far. The first step to become trusted advisors for companies seeking to adopt Zero Trust is understanding this is not a product or a technology one can purchase, set up and off it goes, protecting the network from the inside. Zero Trust is, in fact, a mindset, an attitude to security based on the principle that no users on the network should be blindly trusted. Not only does it require the right tools to analyse and optimise all network traffic, to ensure unclouded visibility, but also the right processes. So, to unlock security success for customers, channel partners must act as savvy allies, helping them not just adopt better solutions, but implement better processes, and replace those granting users implicit trust.

A key tactic that will help partners forge better relationships with customers, as they look to implement Zero Trust, is taking into consideration other challenges, as well as security, these companies might be facing. With the pandemic and its impact, maintaining efficiency and flexibility (and balancing them with protection) is undoubtedly front of mind for businesses today. In this regard, channel partners can demonstrate their value by promoting the added benefits of Zero Trust: our survey shows companies that have already embraced it achieved improved productivity without penalising security (87%), are dealing better with the current global situation (97%), and have become more agile (67%).

Another important element to consider is budget: partners should know CISO teams don’t have unlimited spending power, particularly after a financially testing year such as the one gone by, and this is going to reflect in how granular their network protection can be. Based on their budgets, security leaders will define to what extent and in what areas they want their defences to be airtight, and what vulnerabilities they are willing to be exposed to, and this is something channel partners must think about when proposing products and processes. In general, demonstrating a thorough understanding of customers’ pain points in security and beyond is going to give partners a significant competitive edge.

The business world has never looked so uncertain and companies of all kinds are working to solve conundrums they likely have not faced before – channel partners, in particular, are tasked with adapting their offering to the current circumstances in order to stay afloat. So, as organisations seek ways to battle fierce cyberthreats in a completely new environment, partners have an opportunity to remain successful by offering their customers valuable support in facilitating their Zero Trust journeys.

Security has taken centre stage this year. The prevalence of WFH has caused new vulnerabilities in business networks and exacerbated known difficulties, leading to a sharpened focus on network detection and response. Nearly 85% of IT decision makers reported in our survey that cyberthreats have increased, with over half stating remote working is to blame. As a result, investments in cybersecurity are about to see a spike: over half UK companies plan to increase their security spend, while nearly 40% have vowed to consider security in every single business decision.

So, what does this mean for channel partners? It’s clear that, in order to succeed in this new landscape, they must understand their customers’ security challenges. Whether it be battling phishing attacks or preventing data breaches, partners need to be prepared to provide solutions and, crucially, expert advice on how to enhance protection, if they want to remain relevant and survive in this new landscape.

The growing importance of Zero Trust
Providing effective security support to customers means becoming familiar with different approaches to network protection. Channel partners cannot hope to win the security game without understanding and enabling Zero Trust. As the security threatscape becomes ever more intricate, many business leaders are thinking about implementing this architecture to prevent incidents and combat attacks: our own data shows 76% of IT decision-makers believe it would be unwise not to consider it in the current climate. And it’s not simply an idea floating around within CISO teams, Zero Trust is a core element of companies’ current or planned security strategies: two thirds of our respondents stated they are planning to adopt or are already adopting it.

But what does Zero Trust entail? In a Zero Trust network, no user or application on the network can be granted implicit trust. Rather than giving access based on credentials (which could overlook cybercriminals when they are impersonating legitimate users, having stolen their credentials, for example), a Zero Trust infrastructure analyses behaviour and determines access rights accordingly. This approach is even more crucial today, in the age of flexible working, than before: the network now extends to every single employee’s home, so it’s simply unsafe to operate as if every user or application is legitimate. That’s why businesses are gravitating towards it, and if channel partners want a piece of this pie, they must become useful allies to customers embarking on this journey.

The role of a trusted advisor
Zero Trust is not a new concept, it’s been discussed in the security industry for decades so simply knowing and mentioning this approach to customers is not going to get channel partners very far. The first step to become trusted advisors for companies seeking to adopt Zero Trust is understanding this is not a product or a technology one can purchase, set up and off it goes, protecting the network from the inside. Zero Trust is, in fact, a mindset, an attitude to security based on the principle that no users on the network should be blindly trusted. Not only does it require the right tools to analyse and optimise all network traffic, to ensure unclouded visibility, but also the right processes. So, to unlock security success for customers, channel partners must act as savvy allies, helping them not just adopt better solutions, but implement better processes, and replace those granting users implicit trust.

A key tactic that will help partners forge better relationships with customers, as they look to implement Zero Trust, is taking into consideration other challenges, as well as security, these companies might be facing. With the pandemic and its impact, maintaining efficiency and flexibility (and balancing them with protection) is undoubtedly front of mind for businesses today. In this regard, channel partners can demonstrate their value by promoting the added benefits of Zero Trust: our survey shows companies that have already embraced it achieved improved productivity without penalising security (87%), are dealing better with the current global situation (97%), and have become more agile (67%).

Another important element to consider is budget: partners should know CISO teams don’t have unlimited spending power, particularly after a financially testing year such as the one gone by, and this is going to reflect in how granular their network protection can be. Based on their budgets, security leaders will define to what extent and in what areas they want their defences to be airtight, and what vulnerabilities they are willing to be exposed to, and this is something channel partners must think about when proposing products and processes. In general, demonstrating a thorough understanding of customers’ pain points in security and beyond is going to give partners a significant competitive edge.

The business world has never looked so uncertain and companies of all kinds are working to solve conundrums they likely have not faced before – channel partners, in particular, are tasked with adapting their offering to the current circumstances in order to stay afloat. So, as organisations seek ways to battle fierce cyberthreats in a completely new environment, partners have an opportunity to remain successful by offering their customers valuable support in facilitating their Zero Trust journeys.

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