Symantec: Channel is vital in addressing SMB security threat

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Threat level doubles for smaller businesses in the UK

Symantec is looking to its partners to help raise awareness of the growing security threat to SMBs in the UK.

Speaking at the “Gherkin” in London’s financial district, Symantec was more concerned with addressing the needs of the countless smaller businesses dotted across the capital, rather than the likes of multinationals which have set up shop in the landmark building.

Jay Epton, SMB & distribution sales director UK&I, Symantec says that the number of threats that are facing small to medium business are swiftly rising. Conversely, the traditional targets of cyber attacks, those occupying the enterprise space, are seeing less attention.  In fact the number of threats that are now targeting small to medium businesses are now doubling, Epton says, while bigger organisations are seeing threat levels actually fall.

“The reason for that is that many small to medium businesses are very naive,” said Epton.  “They believe that their data, their information is of no interest to anybody, and yet because of that reason they are being specifically targeted.”

Even if an SMB might not think of itself as a target, they can also act as a way in for criminals to attack those who they supply.

“The landscape has changed, and people are specifically targeting SMBs, because they have the ability to breach that security because they get more information, from that business for there time.”

Epton admits that there can be an amount of scepticism when vendors highlight the growing cyber concerns.   Symantec may highlight its work alongside competitors such as Kaspersky Labs to protect against the rapidly evolving landscape, but ultimately the industry as a whole benefits from greater awareness, and to an extent fear, over the cybercrime landscape.

Awareness of the dangers is important, says Tony Neate, CEO of GetSafeOnline, also present at the discussion.  A recent survey conducted by the non-profit organisation, which is backed by both private and government funding, showed that many SMEs were in dire need of education around the risks, such as DDOS attacks, and the most common form of cyber attack on businesses, via malware.   

Such attacks can cripple a business Neate says, yet many businesses need to be directly confronted by the level of threat before they move to take protective action, even if it gives rise to the possibility of fearmongering.

Epton says that Symantec is now actively looking to invest more into the SMB market, and this is where the channel comes in.   As a large vendor Epton admits Symantec is unable to provide the support needed to help smaller businesses, potentially within hours of a problem arising, as a partner may be able to.

According to Mark Williams, client services director at managed service provider and Symantec partner Wavex, there are further benefits in using its partner base, such as navigating the at times perplexing amount of products for customers.  Williams  says that it is vital vendors and value added distributors understand the needs of end users, something that has not always been the case in the past.

The channel can also reach and and help smaller businesses, some of which are already struggling to keep up with other day to day requirements such as health and safety, not to mention understanding the complex and rapidly changing threat landscape.

With this in mind Symantec has recently updated its partner programme, adding in specialisations, enablement and training programmes to allow partners to engage with customers at local level, though the vendor being careful not to overload its partners with demands, Epton says.

Williams says that such specialisations and training are welcomed by partners, which are keen to differentiate and stay ahead in a highly competitive market.


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