Interviews, Security

Navigating the new normal

Husni Hammoud, Managing Director Barracuda Networks, Ivanti and ESET Middle East (part of Midis Group) speaks to SAME about the new security landscape post the pandemic and how innovation continues to remain the key to future growth.   

 How has the ongoing pandemic impacted attitudes and investments around security?

 The coronavirus has definitely had a big impact on all of us, from every point-our lifestyle, operations etc-so much so that all this affected our way of doing business. At the same time, it created new areas of opportunity that had never been considered before, like remote working, for example. It forced us to ensure business continuity and communicate with our clients in more effective ways than before. In fact, the pandemic even forced us to re-orient our thoughts as well. All this created a new way of life, so of course, it brought with it its own share of risks.  These risks go back to the basic concepts of security, which are: availability, which means I need to be always in contact with people and reachable, and at the same time ensure the safety and security of communication between my company and the client, at the same time, I need to authenticate and ensure that the right people have access to the right information. On top of that, we have the IT infrastructure that needs to be adapted in order to fulfil all these requirements. Additionally, the IT people need to have the capabilities and tools in order to manage remote working and securing their servers, their cloud infrastructure, their networks and most importantly, their end point and mobile environment where everything needs to be connected from anywhere. So, the pandemic has pushed all these requirements exponentially in a just few months, when normally it would take a few years to develop.   

 Over the last few months, we have seen a spike in threat actors targeting employees working remotely. How can organisations ensure that their workforce is security aware and is practicing good cyber hygiene while working outside corporate networks? 

 Most of the companies dealt with this aspect by focusing on training and awareness. This is the most important aspect. People are not used to having everything online and communicating so much electronically. A lot of risks rose from this sudden spurt in online activity because now all websites look legitimate. So, if I click any website, and input my details, it becomes easy for hackers to access all our secure data and compromise on sensitive company information.  Web conferencing and videos became important during the days of the pandemic and the lockdown because people had the time to watch and learn and train themselves with new and challenging developments. Companies and IT teams braced for the challenge by working on new solutions, so that everyone was ready by the time we emerged out of the lockdown. So, the sales of the infrastructure components from networking, servers and cloud subscriptions went up because people wanted to make sure their information is secure anywhere and everywhere.  

The other thing is that companies had to secure their communications so a lot of virtualisation and network access solutions were introduced, and there was a lot of growth in web applications, firewall and web security in order to ensure that online businesses are secure and accessible through the right people. So, these are the areas that most of the companies jumped into, from day zero.  

 Can you please share some of the highlights at the company over the past year? 

I am managing a subgroup of local offices in MIDIS group which includes multiple vendors like Barracuda, ESET and Ivanti. All of them have cutting-edge solutions that cover email security, endpoint security, cloud and network security, etc covering the Middle East, Europe and Africa markets. We were ready from day zero to support and adapt to the pandemic situation. Firstly, we readied ourselves to work remotely and adapt to the new station, at the same time, we were also ready with our solutions to provide them with the necessary tools required during this time. So, we have a list of products that are available which cover all key aspects of modern technology such as cloud back up, patch management, remote management-all of which being part of our product portfolio. Overall, I think the pandemic period was a hectic one for everyone, but thankfully, we have the proper team and proper processes in place that helped us to be ready, on time, and we hope to continue on this promising note for the coming years, to provide new and inventive solutions for the region.   

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