How a Co-Security Approach Can Improve Vendor-Partner Relationships

Good partnerships boost cybersecurity efforts, so vendor-partner collaborations are increasingly key.

Adela Racibor

September 8, 2023

5 Min Read
Co-security cyber approach


Adela Racibor

When it comes to cybersecurity, every organisation faces its own unique challenges and different risks. However, the growing prevalence and scale of cyberattacks have made the stakes clear — no one company can solve cybersecurity problems by themselves.

It requires a collective approach, where organisations can share information, resources and skills. This is a mindset known as co-security, where businesses actively seek to help improve one another’s security capabilities and culture.

This need for co-security also translates into the vendor-partner relationship. Co-security is an approach in which vendors can closely support partners to ensure that all sides are equipped to meet the needs of customers, from the technology itself through to the purchasing and licensing models. It’s about fostering collaboration based on the principle that good partnerships can elevate cybersecurity.

Channel Needs Co-Security Mindset

Here we explore the importance of the co-security mindset in the channel, and how vendors and partners can harness this approach to protect customers with the latest and most innovative solutions, helping them achieve their overall business outcomes.

1. Building relationships on shared vision and values: The current cybersecurity market is strong and grew by 12.5% year on year in Q1, despite uncertain economic conditions. However, budgets continue to see greater levels of scrutiny from end users. This means that the relationships between vendors and partners will be ever more important to ensure they continue to meet the needs of customers, as competition in the market intensifies.

For the channel, a collaborative approach driven by co-security can help navigate this dynamic market and establish a long-term relationship with their clients. Partnerships work better when there are shared values and open communication, to build commercial opportunities.

There needs to be a clear alignment of vision between partners and vendors. Channel leaders must ensure that vendors share their core beliefs around the customer experience, business relationships and strategic vision. They should always collaborate with vendors who prioritise transparency and open communication. Those who seem opaque or overly “product-pushy” without actively listening might not be the right fit.

Once your visions have aligned with a vendor, assess the practical aspects of their business. Here’s what vendors should be offering in practice:

  • Customisable solutions: Tailored offerings that can fit the unique needs of the channel’s clients.

  • Robust support system: Dedicated support for the channel, ensuring seamless integration and problem-solving.

  • Channel training programs: Adequate training resources and programs to empower the channel with the knowledge of their products.

2. Building collaborative growth through knowledge sharing: To effectively implement co-security in practice, all sides need to demonstrate adequate knowledge and resource-sharing capabilities. Channel leaders should also have a thorough, in depth understanding of their customer base and be able to provide appropriate market intelligence to vendors when needed. For example, what are the pain points for their clients? What is their security investment strategy and the level of support that the clients expect?

At the same time, vendors should deliver a continual flow of …

… actionable information to the channel. This is crucial because it ensures they’re informed about the latest threats, enabling them to effectively respond to evolving risks and security challenges for clients. Optimally, vendors will share timely threat intelligence case stories and security insights that can be directly leveraged to better protect and advise customers.

Look for training programs, certification courses and educational materials indicating the vendor is serious about expanding partners’ skill sets. They should act as a force multiplier for the partners capabilities, not just a fulfilment channel.

But it can’t be a one-way street. Co-security depends on two-way information flows. Assess how receptive vendors are to honest feedback and what mechanisms they provide for this continuous dialogue. Similarly, channel partners should also actively listen to their vendors’ concerns and queries. They should also meet with vendors regularly to learn more about their expectations from the channel.

Forums such as advisory boards will provide channel partners with an opportunity to regularly inform vendors’ road map, pricing, and support strategies. Ongoing dialogue should happen at all levels — from sales and marketing teams to technical departments. Human relationships remain integral, even in our increasingly automated world.

3. Support, consultation, and commitment: The key to ‘sticky’ partnerships. In the co-security model, ongoing support and consultation from vendors play a pivotal role for the channel. For clients, the channel is their first point of contact for any support, consultation and integration assistance. Channel partners cannot do this effectively and on time without the continuous assistance of the vendors.

Vendors should provide services such as 24/7 support, technical account managers and transparency around any technical issues such as vulnerabilities, downtime or optimisation. The threat landscape today is dynamic, and risks can creep in at any given time. So, without continuous support from vendors, clients might become exposed to new threats without even realising. This not only builds trust but also ensures partners can rely on vendors in times of need.

Moreover, vendors should adopt a consultative approach, asking about partners’ needs and business goals. This leads to “stickier” partnerships, as it shows that vendors aren’t just interested in pushing products, but in understanding and addressing the unique challenges that partners face. Vendors should provide guidance based on their deep expertise but also allow partners to own the customer relationship and provide tailored solutions. This balance is crucial in the co-security model; a vendor shouldn’t be an ivory tower that partners can’t access. They should proactively reach out and engage with partners and demonstrate that partnership and transparency are more than just words.

Cybersecurity can no longer be an isolated function in our highly connected world. As threats proliferate, vendors and channel partners must align behind shared visions, exchange knowledge and be transparent in their communication. This is the foundation of co-security.

Adela Racibor is a channel manager at WithSecure, the corporate security division of the former F-Secure, where she previously was a sales manager. She is a graduate of the University of Gdansk. You may follow her on LinkedIn or @WithSecure on X.

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