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

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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!

Cyber Security

Surge in Ransomware Attacks Has Made Effective Cyber Security and Defence a Top Priority

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Emad Fahmy, the Systems Engineering Manager for Middle East at NETSCOUT, speaks about the evolving threat landscape in the region

How has the security threat landscape evolved in recent months?
According to a 2021 survey by PwC, cybersecurity is a growing concern for organizations, with approximately 43% of Middle East CEOs planning to increase investments in cybersecurity and data privacy by 10% or more over the next three years. Moreover, 41% of these leaders think that their organization should be doing more to measure cybersecurity. The ever-evolving threat environment has made it increasingly necessary to be vigilant.

Cybercrimes continue to grow in terms of both complexity and frequency. Among the businesses that identify breaches or attacks, 21% lose money, data, or other assets, and 35% report being negatively impacted in other ways and suffering from wider business disruption. As such, it’s vital for enterprises to ensure the security of data, applications, networks, and critical business processes to stay competitive and thwart attackers. Depending on traditional security solutions and methodologies isn’t enough to combat the sophisticated attacks that target businesses today.

Is ransomware still an issue?
It is, unfortunately. The unprecedented surge in ransomware attacks has made effective cyber security and defence a top priority in today’s world. Every day, new ransomware attacks are reported by businesses and government authorities alike, not to mention the attacks that go unreported, and it seems like no one is immune.

Threat intelligence is vital to combat ransomware attacks. Threat intelligence is the study of the bad actors who perpetrate these attacks, along with the tactics and tools they use. This involves unveiling the bad actor’s attack methodologies and why they are targeting those victims. This knowledge is then turned into actionable insight that enterprises can access and comprehend. Empowered with this knowledge, enterprises can learn about their network’s vulnerabilities to actively defend against ransomware.

Companies have been trying to protect the endpoint for years. How can companies make sure endpoints are protected and monitored for attacks and mitigation?
As service providers increasingly focus on cloud services, edge computing, end-users, and endpoint devices, the traditional approach of utilizing distributed detection solutions in concert with centralized mitigation centres within the network is no longer enough. However, mitigation measures that are distributed out to the network edge necessitate both infrastructure and intelligent defence capabilities that are capable of working hand in hand across locations and platforms.

A more modern threat mitigation strategy involves distributing both detection and mitigation functions throughout the network to intercept threats nearer to the source. In this way, network operators can stop attacks upstream, instead of having to incur the cost of peering and transit link traffic that is only going to be discarded once it reaches a centralized scrubbing centre. By conducting the scrubbing as close as possible to the threat source, service providers can reduce any potential impact on traffic, helping to ensure high-quality service.

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Interviews

Video: Axis Inaugurates Experience Center in Dubai

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Axis Communications has opened an Axis Experience Center (AEC) in Dubai. As the first experience center in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region, the center has been designed to offer visitors an intimate look at the wide range of network and security solutions offered by the world’s leading surveillance services provider. We speak with Rudie Opperman to learn more:

To know more about the Axis Experience Center, log on to www.axis.com/axis-experience-center/

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Interviews

Podcast: Bringing Innovation in Access Control and Workforce Management

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In this episode of Future Tech Podcast Show, we are joined by Shiraz Kapadia, CEO, and President at Invixium, who speaks about the company, the products and solutions it offers on the market, and its regional plans:

We are also available on Anchor.fm, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, PocketCasts, and OverCast.

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