April 10, 2015
This week my local police department was forced to pay $500 in Bitcoin to recover data in the wake of a ransomware attack — after federal and state law enforcement agencies and two private Internet security firms (unsurprisingly) failed to crack the encryption. This drives home the point that any organization can be a target, and that these exploits are still very popular with cyber criminals. In fact, Trend Micro just reported on ransomware that makes files appear quarantined by adding a .vault extension. Here’s my advice on handling ransomware.
Cisco AMPs Up Protection
Speaking of malware, this week Cisco rolled out a trio of security initiatives:
Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) Everywhere provides continuous breach detection and remediation for endpoints including mobile devices and Cisco Web and email security appliances. The program includes the AMP Threat Grid analytics engine, sellable as a cloud service or UCS hardware appliance, that’s a result of Cisco’s 2014 ThreatGrid acquisition. Once the system identifies a threat, it’s able to backtrack and alert on all instances and the origin, to help with breach response.
New incident response services based on the Talos Security Intelligence and Research Group are meant to help companies unable to find, or afford, security expertise. The program includes infrastructure breach preparedness, security operations readiness and breach communications assessments.
Cisco ASA with FirePOWER Services comprises a set of next-gen firewall appliances that integrate a stateful firewall, application monitoring, advanced malware protection and next-generation intrusion prevention capabilities. There are five SKUs, ranging from a small/home office model to a ruggedized version for industrial use. The units start at $995; centralized management is optional. Cisco is also offering specializations, training, incentives and promotions related to the new portfolio.
From a channel perspective, the new security offerings could help MSPs extend to small and midmarket customers the advanced malware detection and prevention and next-gen security capabilities once limited to enterprises with the budget and expertise to manage them. Jason Brvenik, principal engineer, Security Business Group, and Al Jacobellis, director of Global Partner Strategy and Security Solutions, briefed Channel Partners on the new portfolio. They stressed the value of the Talos threat intelligence service when paired with ThreatGrid — the company is not just analyzing local security data coming from AMP; it’s gathering intel from private and public threat feeds, Microsoft and other industry disclosures, millions of file samples daily, the open Snort and ClamAV communities and other sources. That enables them to spot breaches quickly, critical given that Verizon’s Data Breach report shows that attackers begin siphoning off data within hours. The array of security data sources Cisco, and other large threat intelligence operations, can tap and analyze can speed detection, because attackers tend to use automated tools that leave digital signatures.
For channel partners without security expertise, Jacobellis stressed the Express Security Specialization, which he says can get partners up to date quickly and for low cost in four areas: Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW), Email, Web Security and, new for 2015, Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System. RSA attendees can see a demo at booth N3801.
Barracuda Adds To Partner Program
Security and storage provider Barracuda this week announced changes to its partner program, including adding a new MSP option, revamping levels and expanding deal registration and protection to include more products. New levels are Premier, Preferred, Authorized and Registered (previously Diamond, Platinum and Certified). Partners on each level may access discounts for evaluation products, product training from Barracuda University and the more flexible deal registration process. For the MSP option, qualified channel partners can resell the Barracuda Backup and Barracuda NG Firewall products. The company says that partners in good standing will be officially enrolled in the new levels. Barracuda has a strong presence in midmarket companies and the government and educational verticals. While best known for security products, it’s moved into storage and dabbled in application delivery controllers.
Cloud Builder Assist
Arista Networks this week announced that its EOS (Extensible Operating System) platform will now be available as a subscription. The idea is to give a hand to cloud providers working to build out capacity in advance of customer demand. The EOS-as-a-Subscription (EaaS) service allows providers to unbundle Arista hardware and EOS software, and thus minimize capex. EOS could be run on whitebox hardware, further reducing expenses. The company clearly feels comfortable deferring that revenue in the expectation that cloud providers will continue to grow and require licenses in the years ahead, writes industry analyst Greg Ferro in his weekly newsletter, and will turn to Arista for that business.
“Arista’s listed on the NASDAQ and now has a market valuation of $4.7 billion on a revenue of $580 million, a generous valuation for a company that is seen as challenging Cisco in one of its most critical markets of data center Ethernet,” Ferro adds. “More importantly, Arista has been successful in selling to cloud providers like Microsoft, with rumors of more than 30 percent of sales in this market. With cloud providers growing strongly this is a good market to be in. At the same time, Arista has been hiring a lot of Cisco and Juniper employees.”
Arista EOS (EaaS) pricing starts at $495 per month for select fixed configuration products and includes all EOS advanced feature licenses along with 24×7 A-Care support.
Beacon of Retail Hope
Solutions providers serving retailers, take note: Freckle IoT (for the omnipresent Internet of Things), a proximity marketing specialist, yesterday announced a deal with mobile marketing expert Blue Bite to deploy 60,000 beacons across the United States, creating North America’s largest proximity network. Beacons are inexpensive devices that can be placed pretty much anywhere and that connect to mobile devices as the smartphone or wearable enters the beacon’s range. Apple has used beacons for years in its retail stores, but the devices have never before been deployed at this scale.
The deal opens up intriguing possibilities for restaurants, retailers — any business that could benefit from delivering “hyper-local” and highly targeted offers and content. It’s not a stretch to imagine sensors in a café detecting a person wearing a FitBit and proactively offering 10 percent off the kale smoothie special. Using Freckle IoT’s open beacon ecosystem and SDK plus Blue Bite’s open mTAG platform, solutions providers could help retailers develop such marketing campaigns and connect with consumers in their natural habitats; the beacons are in transit systems, airports, college campuses, movie theaters, bars, taxis and other places people gather. A report from BI Intelligence estimates that beacon-triggered messages could directly influence up to $4.1 billion in US store sales this year, with that figure growing tenfold in 2016.
Tuesday, April 14, is your final chance to enter to be named one of Microsoft’s 2015 partners of the year. In 2014, the company received over 3,200 nominations for the 46 main categories, including Alliance, cloud, verticals and sales-specific options; to get an idea of what the judges liked, check out the 2014 winner statements. If you’re looking for better odds, check out Channel Partners’ Q2 RFP Challenge, which focuses on Mobile and Unified Communications and Collaboration. In the RFP Challenge, we invite solutions providers to respond to hypothetical but realistic customer scenarios based on company size. Each quarter, three RFPs will “win the bid,” get a logo for use on their sites and be invited to an exclusive digital summit at our Cloud Partners show. All Q2 RFPs must be returned by May 29.
Follow executive editor @LornaGarey on Twitter.
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