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Security is a channel goldmine waiting to be discovered

Businesses big and small and crying out for help securing their data. Sean McGrath argues that it is time for the channel to step up

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: MicroScope: MicroScope: December 2015

As the dust settles following Dell’s rogue certificate blunder and TalkTalk begins the long journey to rebuilding its reputation, one can not state it clearly enough – the current security landscape is a veritable goldmine for the channel.

The 2015 Global Information Security Survey (GISS), which polled 1,755 global organisations, found that 88% of respondents did not believe that their information security fully met the needs of the business.

And who are these organisations turning to in order to plug these holes? Training company QA recently asked 100 UK enterprises who they would reach out to for advice on increasing capabilities around cyber security. An overwhelming 92% said that they would turn to their channel partners, with vendors coming a distant second.

Opportunities are rife across businesses, both large and small. 

The Cyber Streetwise Forum, a government initiative designed to raise security awareness amongst the small business community, said that SMEs find it hard to navigate what they perceive to be a highly complex subject, often turning to their accountants or bank managers for advice.

One would assume that as we move further up the food chain, security capabilities might evolve. Not necessarily so. Quocirca and Trend Micro recently polled 600 European large businesses and found that out of 251 companies that had been targeted, 31 admitted that they were not aware if any data had been stolen and six businesses knew of successful attacks, but had no idea how much data had been lost. 

It’s not just private organisations that are crying out for help to secure their digital estate, but public ones too. Yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed a £1.9bn cyber security budget in his Autumn Statement. £165m has been ear marked for a Defence and Cyber Innovation Fund, created to support innovative procurement across both defence and cyber security.

The NHS represents an even larger opportunity than defence.  The third largest employer in the world, behind only Wal-Mart and McDonalds, the National Health Service, whilst reliant on IT, remains light years behind other public organisations in terms of its technological capabilities. This is, of course, no surprise. Delays in digitisation programmes are to be expected when handling highly sensitive patient data and when you consider the clear and present threats that exist. 

However, progress is inevitable and as the health service is dragged - kicking and screaming - into a state of ‘digital by default’, it will fall on the IT industry to ensure that the NHS’ security framework and policies match the increasingly perilous security threats.   

Of course, capitalising on this opportunity is not without its challenges. With vendors popping up left, right and centre, it can be difficult for partners to evaluate solutions and understand how they might fit into their existing portfolio. And ‘cyber security’ isn’t a proposition in and of itself. Compliance management, risk management, mobile security, cloud security, identity management, event management – bringing all of these pieces together in order to offer a complete security solution is no small feat.

However, there really has never been a better time to make a play on the market. When Quocirca and Trend Micro conducted their study in 2013, 26% of respondents were complacent about the breaches they had suffered. In 2015, this figure has nose-dived to just 6%. There has been a paradigm shift in the value that businesses place on their data. In essence, organisations are overwhelmingly ready to jump – they just need the channel to give them a friendly push.

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