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Exclusive: Cloud and blockchain threats creating new channel opportunities

31 Jul 2018

The evolution of the threat landscape and the need for cybersecurity solutions have created new opportunities for the channel to leverage.

SecurityBrief spoke to McAfee A/NZ channel director Adam Boreham about where the industry is going and what distributors should focus on.

How are the Australian and New Zealand channels currently placed in helping fight new threats?

The tech landscape is evolving and we’re seeing an increased adoption of cloud and blockchain, which are driving new ways of doing business.

At the same time, these tech trends are attracting new threat vectors for the channel to consider.

Most channel partners in Australia and New Zealand have developed comprehensive offerings for traditional threat vectors, however, cloud and blockchain create new threat frontiers previously unseen.

An important challenge, especially in the cloud market, is understanding who owns responsibility for the security of the data.

As the saying goes, “You can’t outsource accountability”.

How can organisations prepare to fight new threat vectors?

It is the channel’s duty to create awareness of the evolving threat landscape and provide guidance and technology offerings that protect businesses from the latest threats.

A report by EDGE Research recently found that businesses in New Zealand will keep fighting over cloud and security expertise in 2018, with cloud and security ranking second and third respectively on partner investment priorities in 2018.

While blockchain technology isn’t at the same maturity stage as cloud, the Australian and New Zealand channel should start ramping up their security capabilities in that space. 

Demand for blockchain technology continues to grow among some of the most established industries, including government, finance, retail, and healthcare.

As in any environment filled with money and data, the broader blockchain and crypto market will always be a target for cyberattacks.

The McAfee Blockchain Threat Report published a few weeks ago details some alarming findings. Bad actors have already aggressively sought to take advantage of the rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies and the early adopters who use them.

There is no silver bullet to eliminating risk in the crypto market and the channel should consider developing their expertise and portfolio in this area.

The approach must be one of a number of complementary approaches that reduce the risk profile via education, effective use of security controls, implementation of progressive regulation and policy, and building tested business process.

How can channel partners best serve the needs of Australia and New Zealand’s organisations in 2018?

A key challenge for every organisation is navigating the increasingly complex cyber threat landscape.

Amongst all the endpoints, various technologies, and threat vectors that need to be protected, our channel partners are asking us how to best guide and support organisations asking for help.

The days of appointing tech in isolation are over.

Channel organisations need to ask themselves, “What else could I be doing/offering to help drive a better outcome for my customers and futureproof their business?”

The channel needs to be considering training, disaster recovery planning, insurance options and more.

Also, there’s always been informal collaboration within the software industry, but this isn’t enough. 

Organisations at all levels of the security chain – vendors, channel, end users – need to more closely collaborate on common goals so software vendors can deliver the best outcomes for their customers.

What is the channel’s role in educating professionals around cybersecurity risks?

Many organisations still lack a basic understanding of security risks and compliance requirements, and of the level of security investment needed.

Moreover, the recently passed GDPR and Mandatory Data Breach Notifications laws will no doubt put more pressure on organisations to safeguard information privacy and large sets of data within their internal and external ecosystems.

Educating end users and business leaders is the only way to make security a number one priority and not just a nice add-on organisations put on top of their existing infrastructure and platforms.

The role of the channel is to help enterprises in executing their business strategy in line with their risk and exposure profile.

As more businesses understand the importance of security, it will become easier to uncover organisations’ real security needs, and design compelling and personalised solutions, ultimately improving the channel’s bottom line.

The channel really has a chance to champion cybersecurity across Australia and New Zealand.

As an industry, we can’t be seen as just technologists anymore.

What offerings do the channel need to prioritise for the second half of 2018?

Cloud is a rapidly evolving market, with Gartner indicating that by 2020, cloud adoption strategies will influence more than 50% of IT outsourcing deals.

Whether it be cloud, blockchain or any other technology, the role of the channel is to enable and support business transformation and innovation and to develop capabilities based on where the market is moving.

Channel partners should look at how they can help their customers drive better insights via the integration of multiple vendor platforms.

The partner community plays a critical role in bringing the integration elements together.

In New Zealand, CERT found that cybercrime costs the economy around $257 million and affects more than 856,000 people from New Zealand, the demand for cybersecurity expertise is growing.

With the government’s recent feedback deadline extension for its cybersecurity strategy refresh there are boundless opportunities to open up a broader security conversation with New Zealand organisations and position the channel as an instrumental security partner and enabler. 

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