Customer protection is key

Staggering under the potential threat of security crises and compliance failures, SMEs are turning to their tech providers who they hold accountable for protection. 

Here, CTO Matt Johnson discusses what is expected of ICT resellers and affirms their critical role as trusted security providers.

The cyber security challenge looms ever larger on all digital agendas. At a macro level the Government’s focus on security is growing in intensity as the UK aims to become a secure and resilient digital nation, seeking engagement with industry and law enforcement to bolster the UK’s security capabilities. “This heightened level of activity is creating a market in which organisations are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the right solutions or services, leading to confusion and the potential to make the wrong decisions,” noted Johnson. “Organisations require a trusted security partner that can advise them on their options.”

Cloud is becoming an integral part of technology strategies for businesses, especially as more agile pay-as-you-go options become available, so robust protection is essential. “Cloud service providers have cyber security at the top of their agenda but as data starts to infiltrate different environments it can become difficult to control security across a disparate estate,” observed Johnson. “It’s therefore important that SMEs look for flexible security solutions that work across multiple platforms and different infrastructures.”

The threats facing SMEs and larger corporations are the same, but the challenge is different. SMEs rarely have the internal resource or budget to match larger organisations, meaning they need to fight cyber threats in smarter ways. “Cyber criminals are always learning from each other and it’s becoming easier for those with few skills to launch an attack,” added Johnson. “Malware-as-a-service and DIY DDoS software are readily available on the dark web. This, coupled with new technologies broadens the attack surface and presents more opportunities for those looking to cause harm. 

“It can be easy for SMEs to become overwhelmed and do nothing, but it’s essential for them to constantly evolve and review their security estate. Another area that could be improved is the level of collaboration between vendors and IT resellers. The industry needs to work together more and share solutions that protect customer bases.”

There is no time for SMEs to sit on their hands in the face of the security challenges they face. Furthermore, the sea of data shared across corporate devices is greater than ever and expanding exponentially, and with the onset of GDPR and demands of PCI, rules and regulations have been tightened and cannot be overlooked. “SMEs can no longer pay lip service to the controls they need to meet,” stated Johnson. “A trusted security partner should advise on the right technology, processes and approach to keep customers safe and avoid governance pitfalls. But working with external companies to tick the initial governance boxes is only the beginning. Making sure that best practices continue to be followed is the real battle to avoid cyber threats and fines.”

As cyber security becomes a top priority for businesses their expectation is that comms and IT resellers will have security inherently built in. This requires constant assessment of the threat landscape and maintaining the skills to keep pace. “Investing in new solutions that have security baked in from the beginning, implementing formal staff training programmes and using solid management portals will ensure that comms and IT resellers remain ahead of the game,” stated Johnson. 

“It is crucial that resellers keep up to date with the new technologies and solutions that vendors offer. They then need to ensure that security solutions fit the customer’s objectives. This will often mean combining complementary technologies to create a bespoke end-to-end security solution. By offering a security wrap and disaster recovery capabilities for all services, products will also be more resilient.” 

It goes without saying that the days of sitting back after buying a firewall and configuring a few policies are over. As more high profile cyber attacks rear their heads organisations will become ever more vigilant and budgets will increase to ensure that effective security measures can be taken, which in most cases will mean leveraging the expertise of trusted partners. 

“The fast pace of technological change and evolving data environments, together with a rise in the scale of cyber attacks, means that safeguarding a business in-house is now a full-time job that requires a small army of staff,” said Johnson. “Therefore the business opportunity for resellers to become trusted security partners is significant.”

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