Stop Chasing Security — You’ll Lose
(Pictured above: AT&T Cybersecurity’s Mike LaPeters and Channel Futures & Channel Partners’ Kris Blackmon on the keynote stage at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, April 10.)
CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — IT security spending is on the rise, with worldwide spend expected to exceed $124 billion in 2019, up 12.4% from last year, according to Gartner. If you’re not talking to your customers about solving their security problems, you can be sure that someone else is.
That was a key message Mike LaPeters, vice president, worldwide channels with AT&T Cybersecurity, shared with attendees at his keynote session, “Trailblazer: Beyond Fire Drills: Why MSPs Must Embrace Proactive Security,” on Wednesday at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. LaPeters sat down with Kris Blackmon, senior editor, Channel Futures & Channel Partners.
“If you lose your customer’s security business you’ll likely lose other managed services business too,” he said.
LaPeters wasn’t all gloom and doom. In fact, he offered some steps that MSPs can take to overcome challenges they face when trying to build out cybersecurity services. AT&T Cybersecurity reflects a big investment AT&T has made in the space since the acquisition of AlienVault in August 2018. Part of the thinking behind the acquisition was to reach the SMB customer with an end-to-end security solution.
Referring to an AT&T-sponsored Trailblazer study that identified some trends in the market today, Blackmon asked LaPeters to highlight some top takeaways.
His first point was that businesses must be proactive with security rather than trying to stay up to date with it. “You’re never going to be up to date with security, you can’t chase security, you have to get out in front of it,” he said.
The second nugget from the study was that security spend is on the rise — currently about 15% of budgets and growing. For MSPs, that market is pegged at about $50 billion next year.
LaPeters’ third takeaway was about the huge security skills shortage. “You as service providers can deliver the service that organizations can’t afford to bring on board,” he said.
Unfortunately, the prohibitive cost of hiring security professionals hits partners too, Blackmon noted. How can partners bridge security expertise gaps in their own organizations?
Partners need to start early and develop their talent. “Build loyalty and partner with local educational institutions organizations,” said LaPeters. “Partners who have built a super loyal base of tech people are the ones who are doing the best today.”
He shared what he considers a key strategy for partners: Find a security vendor that you trust and talk to them. “Talk to them about how you can either work with them to build out a managed security service practice or ask them to recommend a security partner that you can work with,” he said.
Why is all of this important? Because customers can install security solutions all day long, but practicing safe cybersecurity requires more.
“Many vendors come out with this story of how by using their product, you’ll solve all of the customer’s security ills,” said LaPeters. “I can’t enforce this enough: Security is technology and critical to the success of a good security strategy, but if you don’t have the people and processes, it will fail and you won’t get the results that you want.”
He also noted that security isn’t static. “You’re secure at a particular point in time.”