I don’t claim to be a soothsayer, but I can give you an insight into the security issues that IT managers and directors are worried about – and how they are planning to spend their security budgets.
In April, Check Point surveyed senior IT staff, IT managers and IT directors from various UK companies in the public and private sector. We wanted to find the issues that really mattered to those that specify and use security solutions.
This follows a similar survey in November 2007 and shows how attitudes to security have changed in the light of recent major incidents such as the HMRC and MoD data leaks.
Some of the findings were what we expected: others were more surprising. Either way, they could help you target your sales efforts in coming months.
Respondents named their top three current security concerns as controlling remote access (48 per cent), closely followed by stopping external attacks at 46 per cent. Cutting the risk of data leaks and theft was also prominent (40 per cent).
This was in marked contrast to the November 2007 survey, when most senior IT staff surveyed felt they were secure against data leaks.
After all, those six months to April 2008 saw data losses and leaks becoming front-page news, following a spate of breaches at all levels, from massive losses at HMRC and the Ministry of Defence to hospital break-ins.
Had these incidents pushed data security to the top of IT wish lists or were companies confident they had the risks of leaks and breaches under control? Less than half of our 2007 respondents had any data encryption, and less than 40 per cent had any endpoint security measures in place.
Securing endpoints, stopping data leaks and encryption issues have moved quickly up the buying agenda – a real incremental sales opportunity, especially with existing customers that may not have these solutions.
It’s even better when you can demonstrate that these solutions can all be supplied by one vendor, and managed easily under a single console.
Manage it too
Management and control were also named as key concerns: 56 per cent said that managing overall network and device security was an issue. VARs can use this to their advantage by choosing to work with vendors that offer full, open interoperability between devices, unified management and scalability.
It's also an opportunity to put forward UTM appliance solutions – such as the expanded Check Point UTM-1 range – as they greatly simplify management.
This also fits neatly with a key finding of our survey. In 2007, 73 per cent of respondents said their published IT security policy includes data protection issues such as use of USB drives – yet the majority did not have solutions to enforce their policies.
Savvy VARs can demonstrate how endpoint solutions can automate security, and give granular control of what users can and can’t do – helping to eliminate the human factor in achieving policy compliance.
We also asked respondents for their top three security priorities over the next calendar year. These closely matched the security concerns expressed by IT staff: highest on the list was intrusion prevention (49 per cent).
Anti-virus scored high, with 44 per cent naming it as a priority. 38 per cent plan to spend on VPN solutions (36 per cent), with data encryption (32 per cent) and endpoint security solutions (31 per cent) also on shopping lists.
So there you have it: these are the security issues that senior IT staff are looking to resolve in this financial year – and the solutions that they expect to purchase, to solve those issues.
Our research shows great opportunities to new customers, and up-sell existing ones.
Despite predictions of lean times ahead, the security sector is looking healthy for the channel, with end-users actively seeking solutions to their problems – and by choosing to partner with the right vendor, you’ll be ideally placed to capitalise.
Nick Lowe is managing director of northern Europe at security vendor Check Point
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