Complexity of threats boost IT security market in the Middle East

According to industry estimates, the Middle East expenditure on Information Technology (IT) is expected to cross US$20 billion this year, which represents a growth rate of over 10 percent year on-year.

At the same time, the Middle East Network Security market is expected to experience a growth rate of more than 18 percent between 2012 and 2018, opening up opportunities for vendors to identify and tap. Channel Post MEA speaks to IT security industry experts in the Middle East to gauge their views on the regional IT security industry.

Ajay Singh Chauhan, CEO, Comguard.

Threats are complex in nature
“With my years of experience, I believe that as viruses are becoming more complex in nature and advance in technology, the new generation of security software will evolve fast,” explains Ajay Singh Chauhan, CEO, Comguard. “While the market with lower base of security adoption and increase in number of threats ion monthly basis will only enhance the demand for security products in the region.”

According to Frost & Sullivan, the Middle East network security market is all set for rapid growth as organisations in the region realise their vulnerability to increasingly complex cybercrimes. The need to comply with Government cyber legislation has further encouraged businesses to implement network security solutions, fueling the market’s growth in the region. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, The Middle East Network Security Market, finds that the estimated revenues from sales of various IT security solutions will reach $933.6 million by 2018.

“The market in this region, as is our experience, prefers next generation firewall,” adds Surender Bishnoi, the General Manager for Middle East, Cyberoam. “We are all geared to tap this opportunity with our product range that can meet the needs of businesses in enhanced networking requirements owing to newer trends in technology including virtualisation, converged networks, need for faster access, new breed of network-intensive applications, and more.”

Surender Bishnoi, General Manager-Middle East at Cyberoam
Surender Bishnoi, General Manager-Middle East at Cyberoam

Many industry experts claim that IT security is fast becoming a key concern among companies and organisations in the GCC. Utilising fully efficient world class IT security products does not only avoid the possibility of cyber-attacks but also gives confidence that all your company’s important data is safe and secure.

“The security software industry is gearing up big time for the number of attacks happening across the Middle East region,” says Scott Hagenus, the Director of Channel at GFI. “Due to the economic crisis in 2008 there had been an increase in the attacks in the Middle East region; hackers have become more sophisticated in their approach and instead of ‘attacking larger audience with small number of attacks’, they have changed their strategy to ‘smaller audiences with a large number of attacks’ thus increasing their chances of success.”

Increased acceptance of cloud computing in the region
According to Bishnoi, a recent report by IDC expects total spending on cloud delivery in ME region to grow at a rate of 49.7 percent between 2012 and 2016. “While cloud computing evokes much debate about security risks particularly from accessing corporate data and business critical applications over the internet, it means growth for security industry as the best bet of securely accessing clouds is Unified Threat Management approach with extensible architecture which integrate multiple security features like Firewall, VPN, Intrusion Prevention System, AntiVirus and Anti-Spyware, Anti-Spam, Web Filtering, Layer 7 Visibility & Control, Bandwidth Management, Multiple Link Management, and more on a single platform,” adds Bishnoi. “An UTM like Cyberoam enables organisations to apply policy controls as liberal or restrictive as they need allowing businesses to organizations to convert many a publicly available cloud applications/services a veritable private ones, cutting costs without compromising on security.”

Scott Hagenus, Director of Channel at GFI
Scott Hagenus, Director of Channel at GFI.

Hagenus agrees with Bishnoi. He says that though there are some teething problems, there surely is a growing interest in cloud computing across the region. “We see considerable growth opportunities for our partners. According to the IDC there has been a rapid interest in total spending on cloud technology in United Arab Emirates to record an increase of 33.6% year on year for 2012. In the long term, IDC projects spending to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.7% over the five-year forecast period ending in 2016,” adds Hagenus.

Chauhan says that the regional IT industry is currently trying to pace up the efforts to educate consumers about the benefits of protection and how adequate security can protect consumers from being a victim of cyber-crime. “In similar vein, we at Comguard have also run several awareness campaigns for consumers as well as for students to develop their interest and understanding about secure computing. Despite all these efforts, still it’s a long way to go. Indeed, majority of consumers feel that they are not prone to any kind of cyber-crimes and they really don’t need protection without realising that they are the most vulnerable points in the cyber world,” explains Chauhan.

According to Chauhan, unsecured online banking, shopping, or other ecommerce activities can lead to complete loss of data to theft of identity and personal information. “Moreover, in recent years increase in number of lethal virus attacks like Flame can cripple a computer forever. But slowly the need for secure computing is catching up beyond enterprises and government,” says Chauhan.

Opportunities for channel
According to Frost & Sullivan, the convergence of network security technologies in a single device will boost demand for advanced security intelligence systems, although the shortage of skilled labour to manage these sophisticated, technology-intensive solutions can curb investments from companies. The unregulated distribution framework, which lacks structure in terms of price, profit potential and regional allocation, also hinders market growth.

“We believe that currently it’s just a profit game and it’s another product available off the shelf. The main reason is that security is yet to reach status where consumers don’t see it as an expense but as an investment in securing there world. With passage of time, maturity will come in market and security will become a big market for value added services,” explains Chauhan.

Chauhan further says that currently the profitability of security solutions selling to consumer is in bundling. “So I hardly encourage channel partners to design different promotion and bundling and value addition which could be training at this point of time. This will help them to get more consumers interested in buying security products,” he adds.

Hagenus meanwhile adds that security should be a primary focus for IT managers and they need to push their case with management that IT spending is not a secondary investment. The recent spate of cybercrime attacks shows how important the implementation of strict security policies is. Companies also need good, reliable hardware and software products to secure their IT infrastructure.

“We are planning on launching GFI Cloud partner program in the Middle East shortly,” says Heganus. “While GFI Cloud is available, we are making sure that our distribution partners and our partners in general are fully up to speed with GFI Cloud before making a MEA wide announcement. We understand our partners need to be the experts in the field for the benefit of their customers. At the end of the day, GFI wants to ensure our customers get the highest level of product and service possible and to deliver to our customers solutions that help solve their IT needs.”

The future threat scenario is evolving due to a number of emerging factors, claims Bishnoi. He says such security threats include social and human factors, proliferation of devices, applications and systems (such as iPads, Facebook, tablets, e-Banking, iPlayer, and so on), and network and infrastructure vulnerabilities (such as network attacks, malfunction and misconfiguration). “Therefore IT managers should look at security solution that applies the layered security approach for protecting multiple aspects of security and comprises many components. The solution should be able to offer complete visibility of ‘who’ is doing ‘what’ in the network in real time while allowing users their specified privileges, protecting the network infrastructure from malware attacks and maintaining business continuity,” adds Bishnoi. “In other words a Unified Threat Management approach is the wholesome approach towards security. A comprehensive network security solution can ensures high levels of network security and secure remote access with controlled network access to road warriors, telecommuters, partners, customers.”