The state of security in 2016

Security has been one of the most widely discussed topics this year. Sophia Murray examines how the channel is responding to threats
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This year, security has been a widely talked about and discussed issue in mainstream culture.

With a huge ‘botnet’ DDoS attack that saw over 145,000 security cameras hacked and 1.1 terabits of data being stolen a second, along with various other data breeaches, security has again emerged as a huge topic for vendors.

“Northamber is building a portfolio of security solutions and services to help ensure our resellers can offer the
best in market protection,” said Nathaniel Wallis, the firm’s security product manager. “This will be a constantly evolving portfolio as we continue to evaluate the market, regulation changes and threat landscape to ensure we are always one step ahead.

”Security is the number one concern for all business in the UK. Whether it be the risk of external attacks or the actions of careless insiders, companies have to take responsibility to ensure their data and systems remain safe and protected. With EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) soon to come into effect, many UK firms are unsure of how it will affect them, and are worried about how to deal with the new legislative pressures,” concluded Wallis.

Hackers are becoming more determined to bypass firewalls, obtain sensitive information and compromise devices. Connected items will especially be vulnerable to attacks. The Internet of Things (IoT) will be adopted by millions of consumers, and vendors are stepping in to deliver security solutions
that can cope with these sophisticated hacking attempts and technologies. 

Paul Lipman, CEO of security vendor BullGuard, explains: “Ease-of-use will be the single most important factor influencing consumer adoption of IoT security. IoT is complex – no two ways about it. Multiple products from multiple vendors, none of which adhere to a common standard or interface. The opportunity, and also the challenge, for security vendors is to bring simplicity, control and peace of mind by making it very simple for consumers to get control of their data and privacy.”

“Vendors are working tirelessly to provide solutions to today’s threats.” 
Jason Hill, Exertis

Connectivity is likely to influence the way in which security vendors deliver solutions needed to not only detect threats; they need to protect devices from other devices which are connected to a cloud infrastructure. 

Shared internet-based portals increase the risk of a cyber attack for companies and consumers. This threat is also more likely if cyber criminals are already engaged in methods aimed at compromising the cloud. 

The security of the IoT is forcing some resellers to think about approaching the technology. 

“Resellers are enhancing their capabilities and solution-led sales approach while expanding their eco-system landscape in order to provide their clients with end-to-end IoT solutions,” said Tech Data Europe’s VP of IoT solutions Victor Paradell. 

“They are reviewing their organisational readiness, addressing specific competency gaps, and improving their approach to business outcomes, selling according to their IoT go-to-market (GTM) approach.

“With increased exposure to IoT and opportunities across industry verticals, resellers are actively
looking at completing their edge-to-cloud IoT solution offering with complementary products and technologies outside their traditional areas of expertise.”

 However, at the heart of security in the channel this year are vendors, as Paradell clarifies: “They are helping the channel capitalise on the IoT opportunity by making individual specialisation and profitability programs, skills, training and support available. At the same time, they are promoting new partner ecosystems that combine well-established operational technology (OT) vendors with emerging, highly specialised start-ups to enable end-to-end IoT solutions. Compelling IoT solutions and case studies are also making it easier for business partners to figure out how this technology helps solve real business problems.

“Tech Data recently introduced the Smart IoT Solutions business practice to help resellers build their IoT businesses, and provide a simplified route to market.”

Not all hackers will be interested in attacking vulnerable connected devices. Businesses and consumers have, and will possibly always be the main targets for cyber criminals. 

Distributors sensing this threat are making efforts to counteract it. “Security will always be an issue for companies and individuals, so there have to be measures in-place to prevent data from being accessed other than by those authorised,” said CHERRY community manager Robin Bithrey. 

“The use of contact smartcards is currently the method used, but as with credit card transactions, there is also a place for contactless cards to be more commonplace and CHERRY already have a stand-alone contactless card reader available.

He continued: “Rollouts for smartcard related products has been rising slowly for the last few years. As customers are becoming more security conscious, especially within such fields as the NHS or Police, then additional measures to not only prevent access to devices, but also to keep track of user’s activities become extremely important. Keyboards offer a solution that’s easy for the desktop as well as being cost effective.”

The adoption of secure hardware has yet to appeal outside of business sectors, but domestic markets still need more security solutions from vendors in order to fend off malicious cyber attacks. But are vendors prepared to rise to the challenge? 

“Companies have to take responsibility to ensure their data and systems remain safe and protected.” 
Nathaniel Wallis, Northamber

Jason Hill, general security manager at Exertis, seems to think so: “From what we see, vendors are working tirelessly to provide solutions to today’s threats. We see new vendors with new solutions appear in the marketplace regularly. 

“Some of these vendors succeed. Cylance is an example of a vendor that came into the market a short time ago in 2012, with an innovative new preventative anti-malware technology They have made a big impact, whereas other vendors appear and disappear quickly. 

“This means the security market is an exciting and profitable place to be attracting new vendors and innovations, but also driving existing vendors forward. 

“The vendors we currently work with are introducing new solutions to their portfolios such as Zero Day Malware protection. 

“Their solution has better reporting, providing information around what is happening on a network and better alerting of threats. Vendors are also actively acquiring technology to grow and improve their solution sets quickly. I think we will see a lot more acquisitions and consolidation in the coming years amongst vendors.” 

Collaboration has provided vendors with the opportunity to fill gaps in the market for security solutions. These
gaps, highlighted by consumer and business concerns surrounding the topic of security, have helped to bolster the market. 

“IT security is headline news and therefore is on everyone’s agenda, this brings us opportunities,” added Hill.

“Consumers are asking the reseller community for effective solutions, which is driving business for us. The threats are ever-changing and ever-evolving. This gives us, and our resellers an opportunity to sell new solutions and upgrades.”

It would appear then that security is as big a topic as it has ever been. With attacks growing in sophisitication all the time, competition is high as vendors look to improve on their pre-existing solutions and come up with new ways of dealing with threats. Equally, manufacturers are trying to ensure that their devices aren’t susceptible to being hacked into at a core infrastructure level.

Whether it is through ransomware, viruses that affect productivity or malware that can bring a system to its knees, security is of a primary concern to personal and business users. Vendors are very aware of this, and with PCs, smartphones, tablets and IoT devices coming under threat on a regular basis, much will be done to create a safer future in the coming years. 

PCR's Sector Spotlight on Security - in association with BullGuard - is running throughout November 2016 - click here for more articles

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