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Networking and Security Work Better Together if There is Real-Time Visibility



Mohammed Al-Moneer, the Sr. Regional Director for the META Region at Infoblox, spoke to Arabian Reseller about the regional trends in the networking and security space, the company’s regional growth and its commitment to the region

What do you see as some of the regional trends in the networking and security space?
Below are some of the key trends that we see in the MEA region:

  1. Focus on Cyber Security
  2. Adoption of Multi-cloud strategies
  3. Leading the way in NetOps and SecOps collaboration

As cyberattacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication, companies in the Middle East and Africa are increasingly investing in cybersecurity measures to protect their networks and sensitive data. Spending on security solutions and services in the MEA region, including Israel, is expected to increase by 7.9% YoY in 2023, reaching $6.2 billion, according to the latest Worldwide Security Spending Guide from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Within the cybersecurity domain, there will be increased Zero Trust adoption. Zero-Trust architectures have become a means for modern enterprise and government institutions to secure sensitive data in the face of digital transformation and the loss of the traditional network perimeter, as we move to borderless network architectures. And we will no doubt witness an increasing adoption in the MEA market by enterprises this year and beyond.

Companies are increasingly relying on Software-defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), virtualization, and other cloud-based networking solutions. Cloud-managed networking provides the visibility, management, and scale needed to operate today’s distributed cloud and on-premises network, security, and location infrastructure.

Over the past 9 years of operating in this region, we have observed a growing trend among various industries in bringing their networking and security teams together to achieve a more comprehensive and unified approach to securing their core network services, such as DNS and DHCP. In the financial industry, we have witnessed the largest banks and financial institutions in the GCC adopting a more collaborative approach between their networking and security teams to mitigate the growing threat of cyber attacks.

Similarly, in the healthcare industry, hospitals are also implementing this approach to ensure the security and privacy of patient data. We have also seen a similar trend in large enterprises across industries such as technology, retail, and manufacturing, where they are increasingly moving towards a more integrated approach between their networking and security teams.

While we have worked with several global customers who have successfully integrated their networking and security teams, we cannot disclose their names due to confidentiality agreements. However, we can share industry-specific case studies that demonstrate the benefits of this approach and its effectiveness in improving network security and performance.

Can you talk about Infoblox’s regional growth in the Middle East and Africa markets? What are the key drivers for the business?
Infoblox has made a significant investment across the META region with the idea of building out its presence in multiple countries, with offices in Saudi, UAE, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco & Turkey. Infoblox has been expanding its operations in META over the past few years, as the region’s digital transformation initiatives have increased demand for network automation and security solutions. The company serves customers across various industries, including telecommunications, finance, healthcare, education, and government.

Some of the key drivers for Infoblox’s business in META include:

  • Increasing demand for uniting network and security together – As more organizations in the region move their operations online, the need for network and security to work together became paramount. Our solutions help both, network and security teams to protect networks from cyber threats, including malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks.
  • Growing adoption of cloud-based services: Many organisations in the region are embracing cloud-based services to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. Infoblox offers cloud-based DNS and IPAM solutions that help manage and secure these cloud-based networks.
  • Strong partner program: Infoblox’s innovative partner program has been launched to play an instrumental role in meeting the growing demand for network and security solutions.

By bringing together network and security teams, our partners are better equipped to position Infoblox’s core technology value and deliver comprehensive solutions to customers. With our solutions, customers can achieve real-time visibility and control over their networks, enabling them to build safer and more resilient environments. Infoblox is committed to working closely with our partners to help organizations in all industries meet their network and security needs.

What is the significance of the new brand launch for local customers and partners in the Middle East and Africa region?
The rationale behind our new brand positioning is the fact that networking and security work better together when they share real-time visibility into application, user and device context. And real-time threat protection and more resilient network performance can only happen when networking and security work side by side.

Infoblox is uniquely positioned – we help enable NetOps and SecOps to work more efficiently by uniting their view of user context and DNS data, so everything runs faster, works better, and is more secure. And uniting saves NetOps and SecOps time, by uniting real-time user and device context, eliminating critical network and security bottlenecks. Unlocking this unparalleled visibility and control empowers customers to deliver the protection and performance they need today.

We believe that security effectiveness depends on threat intelligence above all else. Using tools included in Infoblox BloxOne Threat Defense, security teams can collect, normalize and distribute highly accurate, multi-sourced threat intelligence to strengthen the entire security stack, secure DNS and boost SecOps efficiency. Infoblox rebrand initiatives reflect confidence and business focus, shaping the company’s critical role in securing the networks of some of the world’s largest companies, appealing to both networking and security professionals alike.

A new brand launch can have a significant impact on local customers and partners in regions like the Middle East and Africa, as we weave a story around how our company is making the transition to a new world of protective services. We believe that the launch will increase awareness of our brand, create new business opportunities, and improve the customer experience.

What can customers in MEA expect from Infoblox in the next 4-5 years?
Infoblox will continue to invest in developing cloud-based solutions to help customers secure their networks and data. This could include offerings like cloud-based DDI (DNS, DHCP, and IP address management) and security services that provide visibility and threat detection across hybrid cloud environments.

Automation is a key focus area for Infoblox, and customers in the MEA region can expect to see more automation features added to its solutions. Infoblox is likely to continue focusing on improving the user experience of its products, with a particular emphasis on making its solutions easier to use and more intuitive.

What are some of the investments that Infoblox is making in the region?
Our company’s training programs, mentorship initiatives, and collaborations with academic institutions are aimed at equipping the region’s talent with the necessary skills and knowledge to tackle today’s networking and cybersecurity challenges effectively. We believe that investing in regional talent is crucial to the success of our customers, and it is a responsibility that we take seriously.

At Infoblox, we are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment that nurtures and empowers our employees to deliver value to our customers. By investing in regional talent, we are not only contributing to the development of our employees but also to the growth and prosperity of the communities we operate in.

Are there any big channel initiatives planned for the region?
A big focus when it comes to the channel is on our recently launched “Skilled to Secure” partner program which reflects the changing security landscape and shifting customer requirements – and the need for providers of security solutions and services to adapt in response. We have been heavily investing in our talented and experienced channel teams and I am proud to say that we currently have industry-leading channel executives across the region who are really able to transform the way we engage with our partners.

We lay heavy emphasis on knowledge and skills development of our channel and we deliver a broad range of training programs. One of our key priorities is building out our channel ecosystem through the recruitment of partners that share our vision, ideology and passion. And we find a great amount of interest from new channel companies interested in joining our program, largely based on the fact that they see huge market potential for our solutions and services. We also have a robust program – Expert Club, for our top-performing partners, to incentivize them as they drive growth for our company.

Cyber Security

Cybersecurity Collaboration Holds Immense Significance in Today’s Threat Landscape



Ertug Ayik, the VP and MD of Middle East and Africa at HP, speaks about the security threat landscape in the region and what companies can do to keep these threats at bay

Tell us about the security threat landscape in the region. How has it evolved over the years?
The security threat landscape in our region, like many others, has evolved significantly over the years. We have witnessed a shift from primarily isolated attacks to a complex and interconnected threat landscape. Threat actors are becoming more sophisticated, and attacks are increasingly targeted and financially motivated.

Emerging technologies, such as IoT and cloud computing, have introduced new attack vectors. The shift to the cloud has also made cybercrime easier, cheaper, and more profitable. Traditional security measures have focused on detecting malware to prevent attackers from gaining access to critical systems. Over the last year, we have seen signs of increased development and trading capabilities – from tools to hack BIOS passwords, to rootkits and trojans targeting device firmware.

Organizations must adapt to this dynamic environment by implementing proactive security measures and staying informed about evolving threats. Increased resiliency, meaning, the ability to respond to hackers who have managed to exploit a vulnerability, is key.

What sort of role does the security community play in countering cyber threats?
The security community plays a crucial role in countering cyber threats. It serves as a collective defence mechanism against the ever-evolving threat landscape. Security professionals, researchers, organizations, and governments collaborate to share threat intelligence, insights, and best practices. This collaboration fosters a deeper understanding of emerging threats, enables rapid response to incidents, and enhances detection and mitigation capabilities.

Additionally, the security community contributes to raising awareness about cybersecurity and promoting proactive defence strategies. HP Sure Click, one of our key security solutions, not only protects users from various cyberattacks but also contributes to this collaborative ecosystem. Its containment-based approach enables us to capture and analyse malware execution traces, providing valuable insights to the security community. Collaboration with industry experts and leveraging threat intelligence providers empower us at HP to better identify and evaluate emerging threats before they pose significant risks.

Tell us about HP’s HP Sure Click. How does it help in keeping security threats at bay?
HP Sure Click is a groundbreaking security solution that plays a pivotal role in safeguarding against security threats. It leverages cutting-edge micro-virtual machine technology to create secure environments for handling untrusted content. By isolating potentially malicious activities within these secure micro-VMs, HP Sure Click prevents threats from spreading to other parts of a network.

HP Sure Click goes beyond safeguarding web browsers; it extends its protection to cover documents like PDFs and Microsoft Office files. This approach ensures that even if a file is compromised, the malware within it remains contained and cannot infect the user’s device. HP Sure Click also quantifies risks by recording how users encounter threats, whether through email attachments, browser downloads or clicking on links.

These insights reduce known risks and may even uncover previously unknown risky user behaviours that can be addressed at an organizational level. HP Sure Click automatically maps attack attempts to MITRE ATT&CK, an industry knowledge base that enables organizations to understand the techniques that attackers are using against their organizations and prioritize their defences based on the threats they face.

By employing HP Sure Click, organizations can proactively defend against malware attacks, enhance their cybersecurity posture, and maintain a secure computing environment.

What are the significance and benefits of cybersecurity collaboration in terms of public reporting, sharing analysis tools, and collaborating within trust groups to enhance collective knowledge and response capabilities?
Cybersecurity collaboration holds immense significance in today’s threat landscape. We all have different vantage points of the threat landscape so by engaging in collaborative efforts such as public reporting, sharing analysis tools, and participating in trust groups, the security community amplifies its collective knowledge and response capabilities. This approach helps in several ways.

Firstly, public reporting of cyber threats raises awareness and allows organizations to tackle emerging threats proactively. Secondly, the sharing of analysis tools accelerates the identification and response to cyberattacks, enabling faster mitigation. Thirdly, trust groups foster a sense of shared responsibility, trust, and mutual support within the security community. Collaboration within these groups promotes a more coordinated and effective response to threats.

HP recognises the importance of such collaboration and actively contributes to the security community by sharing insights and analysis through research and publications.

What are the challenges of cybersecurity collaboration, and can these be overcome?
In the realm of cybersecurity collaboration, we encounter a multitude of challenges that demand careful consideration. The foremost among these challenges is the reluctance to share sensitive information due to concerns about data privacy and security. However, to effectively counteract evolving threats, it is important that organizations overcome this hurdle by anonymizing data and following robust security protocols for information exchange. Organisations can consider participating in collaboration platforms that ensure confidentiality while also implementing clear legal and governance frameworks designed to protect shared information.

Building trust requires establishing strong relationships among all parties. Another formidable challenge lies in the allocation of resources required for seamless collaboration. Coordinating efforts across diverse entities can be resource-intensive, necessitating efficient resource pooling and allocation. To surmount these challenges, industry groups can play a pivotal role in facilitating collaboration and distributing resources effectively. Moreover, the establishment of standardized legal agreements can provide a solid foundation for secure information sharing.

Ultimately, the cornerstone of successful cybersecurity collaboration rests on trust. Fostering trust among collaborators is an ongoing process that hinges on transparent communication, the diligent protection of shared data, and a unified commitment to bolstering collective security efforts. By addressing these challenges head-on, we can collectively fortify our defences against the relentless evolution of cyber threats.

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Cyber Security

Providing Unified Data Protection to Customers



Vijay Babber, the Channel Manager for META at Skyhigh Security, speaks about his company’s differentiated approach to data protection

What sort of services does Skyhigh offer in the region?
Skyhigh Security is one of the leading Security Service Edge providers, and we pledge to protect the world’s data. We work with Enterprise, Government, and Finance sectors to ensure we can guide them towards secure cloud services adoption and protect the regional citizens’ critical PII data from falling into the wrong hands. We are one of the leaders in Security Service Edge, providing unified data protection for our customers. Our services include but are not limited to, Risk Assessment, Access Controls, Data Encryption, Data Loss Prevention, Advanced Threat Protection, Remote Browser Isolation, Firewall as a Service, Anomaly Detection, Access Controls, Unified Policy Controls across all cloud services, and Integration with existing security tools.

Tell us about your differentiated approach to data protection.
Skyhigh Security focuses on a range of features and strategies to differentiate its data security approach. Some major differentiators are our ability to give organisations visibility into all cloud services they are using, whether they are officially sanctioned by their IT department, and even if they are not sanctioned which we refer to as Shadow IT, using machine learning and analytics to provide advanced threat protection in real-time, and real-time data protection of sensitive data in the cloud through encryption, contextual access control, and data loss prevention.

We strongly believe in ease of technology adoption and a quicker return on investment. Our security stack is built on the fundamentals of a frictionless approach, where we have unique methods to secure our customers’ data while it resides in cloud services with our unique API integration support and that too with the widest set of cloud service providers. We can secure data quicker, with the fastest response time that is unmatched in the industry today.

As a CASB, how do you enable companies to access cloud services?
You will be surprised to know 98% of our customers already have cloud services. We guide them on the journey of cloud risk assessment, rating cloud services based on various risk parameters helping them understand the security postures of security services they are connected to, and ultimately understand and demonstrate their cloud risk exposure. You can never protect unless you know what you must protect against.

We guide companies through the phases of cloud adoption maturity, which include, Complete Visibility into Cloud Usage by discovering Shadow IT and Security Risk Assessment, Data Protection which includes Encryption and Data Loss Prevention, and Threat Protection with behavioural analytics and real-time remediation. In this journey, companies can discover different ways to protect their data with their cloud services.

How do your services ensure the security of cloud-based data during transit?
Skyhigh Security provides a Cloud Security Posture Management solution, offering a variety of features to ensure the security of cloud-based data both at rest and in transit. We have various offerings for different requirements, providing a Security Service Edge solution to ensure customers can monitor the data in transit to the cloud services and provide security frameworks to protect sensitive data loss through these channels. We have more than 1000 unique security identifiers that customers can select to ensure their data in transit is monitored and captured if it violates their company security policies.

Tell us about your partnership with CyberKnight.
Although we have only been partnered for a short time, I can say they really are a “true” cybersecurity, “true” value-add distribution partner for us in the Middle East. We chose to partner with them because of their in-depth market knowledge, full coverage in the region, and deep-rooted channel partner relationships. Being a 100% Channel First vendor these USPs were of utmost importance to us, as we are still scaling as a new company, and wanted to grow with a distributor that too was growing at a rapid rate in the region. Looking into the near future we are already strategizing on empowering the Channel and building both technical and sales expertise within the entire region so CyberKnight can be a right-hand arm of Skyhigh Security.

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Zero Trust is Not a One-Time Project



Deepa Kuppuswamy, the Director of Security at Zoho, says the technologies supporting Zero Trust are very much in mainstream adoption

How has the Zero Trust Network Architecture evolved since it was first coined in 2010?
In the cybersecurity domain, Zero Trust is no more a buzzword, it is a decade-old concept that has been evolving for a while. It started as a concept introduced in 2010 in a Forrester research, by 2014 we had Google’s Beyondcorp initiative which reimagined the security architecture and was one of the earliest enterprise deployments of the Zero trust. In 2019 we saw the expansion of Zero Trust to SASE and ZTNA.

The pandemic period was when Zero Trust gained major traction fueled by the aspects of fast-paced digital transformation, and shift to cloud, and remote work. We also saw the evolution of standards and regulations related to Zero Trust – NIST published SP 800-207 as a unified framework for establishing Zero Trust architecture and last year we have the US government executive order mandating the adoption of Zero Trust principles for federal agencies.

Do you believe that technologies that support zero trust are moving into the mainstream?
The basic building blocks for implementing Zero Trust revolve around user identity management and device trust and identity. The technology solutions in these domains like SSO, MFA, Cloud-based directory services, PAM, Unified endpoint management, MDM, EDR, and XDR are already well mature and are an existing part of the security stack of many organizations.

The other crucial component of the Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is the policy decision engine and policy enforcement engine. We have many existing security vendors extending their existing stack to provide agent-based or gateway-based ZTNA architecture solutions. The technologies supporting Zero Trust are very much in mainstream adoption.

Do you believe that enterprise IT departments today require a new way of thinking because the castle itself no longer exists in isolation as it once did?
Today’s digital-first enterprises are no longer operating within the confines of a traditional network perimeter. Apps are
everywhere and users are everywhere. With more than 80% of organisations adopting a cloud strategy, the business apps are hosted outside the organization network boundary.

The hybrid model of work is here to stay, and employees want seamless access to the business apps without any difference in experience based on the location from which they connect. BYOD is becoming a norm, with business data being accessed from personal devices that have lower security postures.

The traditional method of using network location, ownership, and control of physical assets as parameters for implicit trust is a flawed security paradigm. “Never Trust, Always Verify” should be the philosophy the IT department should internalise, implement and practice. Traditional tools like VPN are not designed to support remote access of this scale and do not offer flexible options for adaptive access control. It is imperative that the IT and Security departments work together to reinvent the security architecture in line with the current evolving business models.

How can companies get started with zero trust?
Moving from theory to practice has been challenging with Zero trust. To many organizations, zero-trust implementation is seen as a huge, expensive, and complex project. As it touches everything from user to device to network it involves various stakeholders within the organization. What works out practically is to start small, start from where you are, and start with what you have as the current technology stack.

To initiate zero-trust implementation, organizations can start by defining a strategy and baseline prior to embarking on a wider zero-trust technology implementation. There should be an overall phased approach – Assess, focus on the top critical use cases, break into smaller achievable milestones, implement, and optimize over time.

We followed what we call the “Crawl, Walk, and Run” approach in our organization. The initial crawl phase involved strengthening the identity and device pillar focusing on the below activities

a.Implement SSO
b.Enforce MFA
c.Enrol corporate devices in UEM and MDM
d.Conditional access based on device certificates

This served as a good starting point and helped us to show the value early on to the users and the various stakeholders.

Industry experts have warned that cyber-attacks will be focused on techniques that zero trust controls can’t mitigate. What according to you can be done to address this?
Zero trust is not a single silver bullet solution to all your security risks. There are other areas outside the scope of Zero trust like API security, hardware and software vulnerabilities, insider threats, and supply chain attacks. Multi-layered approach and defence in-depth controls are very much needed besides implementing Zero Trust. Security awareness training, incident response planning, regular monitoring and patching of systems and applications, comprehensive SOC capabilities, and threat intelligence are required to tackle the current cybersecurity challenges faced by organizations.

What according to you are the limitations of zero trust?
Zero Trust as a cybersecurity paradigm is a great evolution, but where we see limitations are in the practical implementation and deployment. With any new security model we experience challenges as the scope is expanded we try to increase the granularity of controls. Zero trust is not immune to this.

Zero trust is not a one-time project, it is a continuous journey toward better security. It is also not a one size fits all approach. Not every organization can follow the exact Beyondcorp approach, the strategy, and roadmap need to be evolved according to the business need. Organizations should build a solid strategy and plan and invest in resources and people to succeed with Zero Trust.

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