Navigating the security landscape

Navigating the security landscape
Michael Conway, director, Renaissance Picture: Maura Hickey

Operating a business is more complex than ever before, which explains why managed services are growing in popularity

‘In the old days, you just put up a firewall, you closed the doors, you locked tahe parameter, you put in antivirus, you stopped people doing things and it was relatively straightforward and safe,” said Michael Conway of Renaissance.

“Now it’s a complex environment, there is no parameter . . . mobility is everything. I have a laptop, a PC, lots of people have tablets, you go from hotspots, you work in your home environment and your office environment.

“You’re based in cloud systems, you’re based on-premises, you’re based everywhere, you’re dealing with different apps and everything else. And that’s the nature of business in 2019.”

The popularity of managed security services is down to moving away from the old world and towards a more open and versatile environment.

The growing complexity of operating a business now, incorporating multiple devices, cloud, online services and other factors, means that few businesses have the necessary skillset to properly deal with these problems.

This isn’t just a problem in Ireland, it’s a global problem, says Conway.

“It’s a complex environment . . . you ultimately need somebody who has the capabilities and knowledge, hence the reason why people outsource to managed security services,” he said.

“They can’t get the staff . . . if you want to get someone who can understand and interpret your IT security systems, that’s an absolute nightmare, hence the reasons why managed security services are growing. It’s not just in Ireland, it’s global.

“The other aspect is most of the top-line security technologies now, even at the enterprise space, are being built out to be delivered as managed services. Even SOC (security operations centre), automation, response-type technologies, they’re all being driven around that managed services business rather than doing it on-premise.”

One area which Conway says managed security services can help with is dealing with the problem of alert fatigue.

Nowadays, we are inundated with alerts for email, news apps, social networks and others. The same thing applies to security alerts but determining what ones you should take heed of and which ones aren’t as urgent can be challenging to figure out. The likelihood is there are only a few you need to keep tabs on, but determining which ones are important requires some insight.

“There is alert fatigue in a lot of businesses now,” said Conway. “Lots of things they need to worry about to the point that they just throw their hands up and say, ‘I’m going to outsource this to somebody who has the technical capabilities and the automated tools.’

“[It’s just looking] at data and say this is stuff I need to worry about, these are the five things I need to worry about and these are the steps I need to take.

“That’s what it’s about, that’s the driver, so there’s no doubt managed security services are the way forward, and any organisation, as an end user or even as a service provider, that isn’t moving in that space is probably going to leave themselves exposed one way or the other in the future.”

On top of that, managed security services are usually the only ones who can afford the many tools, services and knowledge required to navigate the security world. Since they have the required staff to make sense of it all, it’s more logical to avail of such a service than to take it on alone. The worst-case scenario is having the latest piece of technological equipment but not knowing how exactly you’re supposed to use it.

The world is very much a cloud-based one with various ‘as-a-service’ type offerings popping up regularly. If you think about the apps you use on your phone, tablet or laptop, it’s safe to say the majority of them, if not all, have some element of cloud functionality by connecting online, syncing with past versions or offering accessibility from anywhere.

All of this creates a complex environment to understand and the rate of change means there won’t be an endpoint per se. Businesses will be on a continuous journey keeping up with new trends, emerging threats, regulations and processes that means partnership for many businesses is a necessity, not an option.

“All of this makes it a complex environment, there are no parameters and it’s going to continue,” said Conway. “It’s not like it’s going to be a paradigm change [where we say] now we’re changing and here we are.

“It will continue to change and unless you continue to change, you’re not going forward anyway. It’s going to get more complex so there’s no doubt that managed security services are the way forward.

“For the total industry, the end user, the channel, and ultimately we see that with the vendors, they’re delivering their technologies through that, that’s the way people want to consume them.”

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