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Women in Security: Women Have Had to Work Very Hard to Prove Themselves



Suzanne Al Najjar, the Channel Manager for the Middle East at A10 Networks, says that there’s nothing in the world that is free of challenges

Tell us about yourself and your current job role.
I have always been very passionate about the technology industry which leads me to choose a career in this field. Currently, I lead the regional channel business for A10 Networks in the Middle East. The role involves developing and implementing a channel strategy and strengthening relationships with our partners.

As a company, we focus a lot on education and training and I oversee our partner enablement program. What I love most about my job is networking and face-to-face interactions with partners, but with the current pandemic, this has been a big challenge over the past year and a half.

Tell us about your journey into the security industry. Was the security industry your first choice?
I wouldn’t say that security was my first choice, but the progression through my career in the technology field led me to where I am today – in the highly fascinating world of IT security. I started working in the IT field in 2014 with a distributor for network and network security products.

I then joined a system integrator as a territory sales manager, tasked with the role of expanding their market coverage. Following that, I joined Micro Focus to support the company in growing its business in Saudi Arabia. I then landed a Channel Account Manager role at A10 Networks in March of last year – a position that I currently hold and am perfectly suited to.

During your tenure in the security industry have you experienced major changes the industry has gone through?
I believe that there are at least three major things that have changed:

  • The rapid advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT) has had a huge impact on the security industry over the past decade. Millions of connected devices are creating new entry points to the network and therefore posing increasing security and privacy risk.
  • The current pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation plans for a majority of regional enterprises and as they embrace technologies like the cloud to enable the hybrid workplace, there is an increased sense of urgency to implement the latest technologies and practices to secure the organizational network.
  • In my experience women have had to work very hard to prove themselves. Especially in male-dominated industries like technology, for instance, this has historically been a challenging task. But this is changing and today, women are embracing major roles across all fields, including IT security.

Are there any challenges you face on a day-to-day basis working in this industry?
Actually, there’s nothing in the world that is free of challenges, but I am a positive and competitive person and the thought of overcoming a difficult task greatly motivates me. I see challenges as a stepping stone in my journey to becoming stronger and more successful.

What sort of future do you foresee for the security industry as a whole?
No doubt, cyberattacks will increase in frequency and sophistication in the future. One of the major innovations driven by 5G is the implementation of multi-access edge computing (MEC). Building intelligence into the edge will boost the availability and efficiency of 5G networks. However, keeping the global cybersecurity trends in mind, we can see that the intelligent edge might be hijacked by attackers for launching different kinds of attacks.

2020 was the year of understanding what the Zero Trust model is in a practical sense. We believe that the concept of Zero Trust has reached a level of maturity and clarity where it will be effectively adopted and implemented by many organizations in 2021 and beyond and that it will become the go-to security model for all types and sizes of organizations.

Since 2020 forced most of the workforce to work remotely, attackers have been experimenting with new ways of exploiting security loopholes or shortcomings exposed by these rapid changes. This accelerated and will continue to accelerate the development and adoption of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions.

What more needs to be done to welcome more and more women into the security industry?
As mentioned earlier, the age-old mindset of technology being a male-dominated field is breaking down. Women today in most developed countries across the globe are given equal opportunities when it comes to education and careers. We as women have to change our mindsets and believe that we can be dominant in any field that we choose, including IT security, if only we are well educated, innovative in our outlook, and persistent in our desire to reach the top!


COP28: AI Can Be Leveraged to Deliver Actionable Insights



Paul Park, the Regional Director of MENAT at Milestone Systems, says climate change is complex and demands collaborative, cross-border solutions, often constrained by geopolitical tensions. (more…)

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COP28: Fortinet is Committed to Innovating for a Safer Internet



Alain Penel, the VP for Middle East, Turkey, and CIS, at Fortinet, says sustainability is central to his company’s vision

Please tell us about your efforts that ensure a sustainable and equitable digital future.
Sustainability is central to our company vision at Fortinet: making possible a digital world you can always trust, which is a fundamental element to achieving just and sustainable societies. Our corporate social responsibility mission is to deliver on that vision by innovating sustainable security technologies, diversifying cybersecurity talent, respecting the environment, and promoting responsible business across our value chain.

We are actively implementing our sustainability strategy across most material areas, and we continue to prioritize the security and privacy of individuals and organizations to enable digital progress and establish sound governance. We also remain committed to the vital issues of climate change and resource scarcity that impact us and our stakeholders.

What is your commitment to combat climate change?
Our commitment to the environment and our efforts to curtail climate change are reflected in our product innovation and manufacturing standards, the eco-footprint of our facilities, and our support of environmental policies and regulations. Fortinet has a strong commitment to product energy efficiency and has also sought to reduce its environmental impact by redesigning its packaging, shipping over 500,000 boxes with 100% eco-friendly, biodegradable packaging in 2022. We have also taken tangible measures to mitigate our environmental impact and harmful emissions by signing onto the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across our value chain by no later than 2050.

How are you aligning your sustainability initiatives with the themes of COP28?
In line with the COP28 theme of education and skills, we have a mission to grow an inclusive cybersecurity workforce. Fortinet has already trained 219,465 people in cybersecurity as part of our goal to reach 1 million individuals trained in cybersecurity by 2026. We have also seen a +39% year-on-year increase in women hired.

When it comes to promoting responsible business and accountability, Fortinet delivers training on the impacts of human rights throughout the product life cycle to key business units. 100% of our key contract manufacturers and over 90% of our distributors globally have completed Fortinet’s training on compliance and business ethics.

Finally, in line with the COP28 theme of innovation, Fortinet is committed to innovating for a safer internet. Over 200,000 pieces of malicious cyberinfrastructure were disrupted as part of INTERPOL’s anti-cybercrime operation in Africa; 5 new product families and services were designed to support security teams in the arms race against cybercrime; and 13 new information security certifications and assessments were completed, including SOC2, HIPAA, TISAX.

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Cyber Security

Databases Are the Black Boxes for Most Organisations



Nik Koutsoukos, the Vice President of SolarWinds, says databases represent the most difficult ecosystems to observe, tune, manage, and scale

Tell us about the SolarWinds database observability platform.
Nearly everything a modern business does from a digital perspective requires data. Thus, databases are among the enterprise’s most valuable IT assets. This makes it critical for organisations to ensure their databases are optimised for performance and cost.

That said, databases represent the most difficult ecosystems to observe, tune, manage, and scale. Not only are there different types of databases that serve different purposes, but they are also populated by different types of data, adding to their complexity. The implications of not having visibility into your databases can be anywhere from a costly annoyance to a significant issue that causes business service disruption. For example, most application performance issues, between 70% and 88%, are rooted in the database.

For this reason, databases have largely been seen as a black box for most organisations. You know what goes into it. And you know what comes out and how long that took. However, the complexities that occur within the black box of the database are harder to discern.

This is where the SolarWinds Database Observability comes in. This offering is built for the needs of the modern enterprise environment and helps ensure optimal performance by providing full, unified visibility and query-level workload monitoring across centralised, distributed, cloud-based, and on-premises databases. Organisations armed with SolarWinds Database Observability enhance their ability to understand database implications as new code is deployed, utilise real-time troubleshooting of database performance issues, and isolate unusual behaviour and potential issues within the database.

How does database observability help IT teams track and manage infrastructure, applications, and possible threats?
Database observability collects data about the performance, stability, and overall health of an organisation’s monitored databases to address and prevent issues, and provides deep database performance monitoring to drive speed, efficiency, and savings. With SolarWinds Observability — which supports MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server database instances — database performance, responsiveness, and error rate are conveniently displayed in dashboards.

Moreover, alerts can be configured to notify admins by email or other methods when user-defined thresholds are crossed. This allows them to identify and remedy issues before they can develop. By gaining insight into the activities taking place inside their database instances, teams can understand user experience as well as ensure systems can scale to meet demand.

What sort of enhancements has your observability platform received recently?
Just this November, we announced major enhancements in the Database Observability capability within our cloud-based SolarWinds Observability platform. SolarWinds Database Observability provides full visibility into open-source, cloud-enabled, and NoSQL databases to identify and address costly and critical threats to their systems and business. It is now possible to navigate across all of the samples collected globally, giving IT teams an empirical distribution of random samples, which resembles the main workload.

What factors according to you will drive the adoption of observability tools in the MEA region?
The Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa (META) are riding a wave of rampant digital transformation as organisations seek to remain competitive. According to IDC, digital transformation spending in the Middle East will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% over the five-year period, topping US$74 billion in 2026 and accounting for 43.2% of all ICT investments made that year. As organisations continue to shift workloads to multi- and hybrid-cloud environments, the complexity of their IT environments still continues to increase. This raises the potential for visibility and monitoring gaps which ultimately translate to underwhelming or outright frustrating experiences for end users.

Tell us about the top three trends you foresee for 2024.
There are clear signs of the continued adoption of cloud technologies to allow enterprises to become more agile, giving engineering teams the ability to focus on their core competencies and expand and contract on demand.

The adoption of Kubernetes is also increasing as the refocusing introduced by the cloud enables the move to microservices-based architectures which require sophisticated orchestration management.

Finally, we are starting to see an uptick in Vector databases, as applications demand better handling of relationships between data points.

What is going to be your top priority in terms of strategies for 2024?
We will continue to deliver on our vision of making observability easy. OpenTelemetry is driving observability, but data collection is nothing if it can’t provide insights. So, we aim to ensure the data is both collected and curated such that users find it easy to consume and extract valuable insight.

Regionally, through 2024, we will continue to focus on our key markets of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the ongoing enhancement of our product portfolio, and the strengthening of our channel ecosystem to create more markets for our business and for our partners.

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