Email Security Holds Ongoing Potential For VARs
Now is the time to jump into selling security because cyber criminals aren’t slowing down their activity.
Business Solutions, May 2009
Four vendors from the security industry say market demand remains high for security solutions that adapt and adjust. “We have seen a continued increase in the sheer volume as well as complexity of threats,” says Angelos Kottas, manager of messaging security at Symantec. Spammers are taking advantage of new techniques as well as social engineering to get through to email users, including: scammer-related spam messages, spam/malware embedded in legitimate newsletters, spam traffic driving users to infected websites, malware embedded in email, and bounceback spam that spoofs legitimate email senders. Kottas says that means more innovative products need to be added to security VARs’ line cards, and the issue of scalability must move to the forefront. “The trends from vendors revolve around creating spam-fighting and malware protection to address new types of threats and increasing scalability to respond to increased volumes.”
Jim Semersky, director of channels at GFI Software, adds that more and more cyber threats are geared to stay off the user’s radar, which makes them harder to detect and to stop. “One noticeable change over the past couple of years has been that most threats go undetected. Although some still make headlines, there is less of a frenzy,” says Semersky. “But those threats beneath the surface are equally dangerous and malicious.”
To Compete, VARs Must Follow Threat Landscape
In order for a VAR to compete successfully in the security space, vendors say there are several key facets to understand. Kottas recommends VARs work with vendors that have a global reach, which is needed to stay abreast of new and emerging threats. He adds that, as broadband Internet access increases globally, vendors must expand localized threat responses to address issues such as foreign language threats.
Bob Gagnon, VP of sales for AVG Technologies USA, adds that VARs also need to look for comprehensive solutions. “VARs need to understand that the frequency and sophistication of threats have grown exponentially and, therefore, traditional signature-based solutions are inadequate,” says Gagnon. “Your solutions need to incorporate such techniques as heuristics and behavioral analysis to determine, in real time, whether a threat exists.” In some cases, that breadth of a solution comes from the vendor, but in other cases, VARs should be savvy enough to customize solutions to fit the needs of customers. “As new email threats and security requirements emerge, customers are looking to solutions providers for guidance about protecting their systems,” says Scott Cutler, executive VP for AppRiver. “That’s why it is a good idea for VARs to tweak or configure their security solution to address threats as they appear.”
SMB Market Rich Opportunity For New Security VARs
For those VARs looking to get into the security market, the challenge is not only grasping the quickly evolving threat landscape, but also understanding the best market to target with email security solutions. “Although SMB comprises a vast majority of businesses in North America, many do not have email security for today’s threats,” says Cutler. That, of course, provides a prime opportunity for VARs, especially with the Software as a Service (SaaS) email security products available. “With SaaS, the small business owner is granted access to enterprise-grade applications in highly available data centers for a fixed cost per employee per year, which is usually a fraction of the traditional in-house IT costs.” In addition, SaaS allows VARs to layer services over a security solution, further increasing revenue. Semersky agrees that the prime market for email security is the SMB space. “As more SMBs are legally bound to store and manage electronic data, the need for security solutions in small businesses is growing at a fast rate,” he says. “With this in mind, vendors are seeing the importance of providing solutions that address an SMB’s needs, providing all the required functionality but making sure the price point is within reach and budget.” That can only help VARs, particularly those just entering the security market.
Regardless of the market a VAR chooses to focus on, it must take certain steps to protect and increase its market share. “Businesses are looking for cost-effective solutions and value-adds to lower costs,” says Semersky. That means VARs must provide expert advice, avoid jumping straight into a sales pitch without examining the client’s needs, help the client understand the problem and what the solution is, show the client they understand budget concerns while also explaining why investing in a security solution is much less expensive than a security breach, and offer to help with in-house security awareness programs.
Remain Informed About New Solutions To Succeed
To prepare for the future, VARs must understand and be prepared to sell the newest email security innovations, namely security services in the cloud and hybrid security offerings. Kottas says two other developing technologies are security for virtualization and Web security, which is expected to become fully integrated across security product portfolios. Managed security services are always a good opportunity for VARs, particularly if the economy remains sluggish. “Most SMBs and small to midsize enterprise [SME] have a high need for email security, but lack the in-house expertise to implement new products,” explains Gagnon. “With the economic climate of today, they will be looking for a creative, cost-efficient way to obtain and retain high levels of email security, and managed services is a good option for those businesses.” Cutler agrees. “VARs need to be innovative in the security space and fully prepared to go above and beyond for their clients,” he says. “Those VARs can expect to see their market share increase even when times are tough.”