MSP

XGen badge (HES) is the latest Trend Micro solution to wear the xGen badge. We take a brief look at the machine learning benefits behind the brand.

For both MSPs and resellers, Trend Micro’s Hosted Email Security (HES) has always been a compelling sell, delivering powerful, serverless email protection for customers with limited IT resources.

But whereas the rest of Trend’s Worry-Free Business Security Services solutions have already been plugged into the Predictive Machine Learning technology that is one of the features of the newly minted xGen brand, HES (perhaps because it’s also available as a standalone solution, outside of Worry-Free) hadn’t been – until now.

Here are some of the benefits that ‘xGenned’ HES now delivers to end-users.

Zero-day and unknown threats detected

With the threat landscape evolving at bewildering speed, checking chunks of code against databases of the known ‘usual suspects’ is only fractionally effective.

Instead, security solutions now need to detect hitherto unknown and unidentified threats, too, as we described in a previous post recently - and this is exactly what the Predictive Machine Learning in HES now enables it to do.

Predictive Machine Learning uses advanced file feature analysis to ascertain both the probability that a threat exists in a file, and the probable file type – and, of course, because it is learning from each example, it gets better as it goes.

Dangerous files and processes neutralised

Once the machine learning process has identified an unknown or zero-day threat, it can then take action to keep end-users protected.

If the threat is file-based, for example, the solution will quarantine the files in question, to stop the threat from spreading across users’ networks.

HES shares its newfound machine learning capabilities not only with Trend’s Worry-Free Business Security Services solutions but also with OfficeScan, so this more detailed explanation of the latter’s Predictive Machine Learning features, and how they work, is worth a read.

No more multiple login hell

Bringing HES into the xGen fold appears to have prompted some other helpful alignments with existing Trend solutions, too (although, in truth, these don’t have much to do with machine learning!)

There’s a lot less cumbersome clickery involved, for a start. For example, you can now jump directly from HES into the management console of the Cloud App Security solution, whereas before you’d have had to go from the Customer Licensing Portal (CLP) to HES, then back to CLP in order to reach Cloud App Security.

This is important for two reasons: firstly, to stop you losing the will to live. And secondly, because it’s a significant improvement to the overall email security workflow (Cloud App Security is needed to provide Exchange Online mail store scans as well as inspection of internal email traffic - so an easy hook-up to it is a must).

In short, HES is going through the same operator-friendly evolution as many other Trend solutions - getting rid of fiddly separate passwords for each service.

Ultimately, this helps partners work more efficiently and thus cut down on admin overheads, but also it makes for smoother service delivery.

HES: an xGen latecomer poised to deliver

It’s worth noting that HES has also recently benefited from an overhauled interface, improved data insights, enhanced Time-of-Click web protection, and other additional refinements, as explored in this post - so it certainly hasn’t been standing still.

But it has moved at a different speed to the rest of the xGen stable, and it’s good news for security resellers and MSPs alike that they can now tell their customers the gap is being closed!

MSP programJoining an MSP program can work wonders with channel partners’ balance sheets, as our friends at Trend Micro explain in this blog!

We’re always keen to share compelling insight from our vendor partners, and Trend Micro have nailed it with their blog Five reasons you need to join an MSP program….today!

 So with thanks to the guys at Trend, we’ve condensed it below. (And if you like what you see, come and talk to us about the MSP solutions we offer!)

Five reasons you need to join an MSP program… today!

1. Better margins

It is not uncommon for our partners to earn in excess of 100% profit margin on the security solutions they are providing to their customers as part of their managed service agreements, which is probably a much higher percentage than what you are earning now if you are just buying annual licenses when your customers’ licenses expire.

Let me explain how in two words: aggregate pricing. Put simply, MSP programs typically offer pricing on an aggregate seat count basis, which means that you are paying for licenses based on the total number of clients you currently manage. This can be a significant difference as business grows and you move in to cheaper and cheaper seat bands. To figure out just how much margin you are missing out on ask your vendor how much it costs per seat in the lowest price band (typically five to 25 seats) vs. the cost per seat in the price band that represents your entire customer base. That number is the extra margin you are missing out on.

2. Predictable revenue stream

Compared to the feast-or-famine nature of revenue in a break-fix business model, predictability is one of the primary benefits of being a managed service provider. Joining an MSP program helps you further streamline and predict both the revenue from your customers, as well as your service delivery costs.

This one is a bit of a twofer since you can more easily calculate revenue projections and do forecasting into the future. You can also calculate cost projections and get a much better understanding of the health and future growth potential of your business. The icing on the cake is that the value of your business increases as well as your revenue streams–a critical component of your exit strategy.

3. Multiple recurring revenue streams

The great thing about being an MSP is that you are forced to heavily focus on automation and repeatability since controlling costs directly impacts your bottom line. Once you’ve joined an MSP program, you will generally have the ability to create multiple recurring revenue streams if they have a broad product portfolio. Once you have created processes and trained your staff around the tools provided as part of the MSP program it’s very easy to “turn on” any additional products your vendor may offer across your entire customer base. This can be done in a very efficient and cost-effective manner, with each of these products representing an additional recurring revenue stream and more profit.

4. Moving from CapEx to OpEx

There may be some tax and accounting benefits to joining an MSP program and moving from purchasing annual licenses upfront for your customers to paying for licenses monthly or quarterly — or moving from CapEx to OpEx. The main benefit is the ability to recognize deductions completely in the current period vs. recognizing them over the useful life of an asset (that is, if you buy a three-year license and deduct it over those three years).

Disclaimer: We are a cybersecurity company, not tax experts. Therefore, we highly recommend discussing this with your accountant or tax professional to weigh the pros and cons and how it may affect your business specifically.

5. Elimination of renewals

Lastly, a good MSP program will give you complete control over license management and provisioning from a self-service portal. This allows you not only to provision licenses when you need them (think evening or weekend deployment when you forgot to place an order three days in advance), but also to eliminate all the hassles, complexity and costs associated with renewals. In essence, since you have complete control over the licenses, an expiration date is no longer necessary–you can simply cancel the license when you need to.

If you’ve never figured out what it costs you to track disparate expiration dates across your entire customer base for every product, to request quotes from your vendors, to create invoices for your customers, to follow-up on payments from your customers, and to submit payments to your vendors just to renew a product, then you probably should! Most partners we  meet who go through this exercise are shocked to find out they often lose money on smaller customers because they did not factor the costs of renewing into their pricing or business model.

Although there are so many more reasons to join an MSP program as soon as possible, these are our top five reasons you should be seriously considering becoming part of one…

Blue Solutions is a specialist security software distributor with many years’ experience in helping partners take their MSP security proposition to market. To talk to us about our range of MSP security solutions, get in touch.

Email SecuritySpam, phishing, malware – these are just some of the hazards email can carry. We’ll see more of them in 2017, so what kind of security solutions can counter them?

Following on from our recent post about business continuity solutions, another topic worth following in 2017 is email security.

So just how important is it?

Well, according to email research from the Radicati Group, the number of business emails sent and received per day in 2017 will number 120.4 billion. By 2019, it will be nearer 129 billion.

And this unrelenting growth is one of the factors driving a huge increase in email-borne cyber-threats. In fact, in the first quarter of 2016 alone, according to this piece in Infosecurity Magazine, there was an 800% increase in email-borne threats over the previous year!

What, then, should you be looking out for to protect your business (or your customers’ businesses, if you’re a security reseller or service provider) against this onslaught?

Choosing email security

We’ve identified some specific features that we believe are critical to effective email security in 2017’s threat-laden world.

1. Ease of use for SMEs

The latest Government Security Breaches Survey found that SMEs are now being pinpointed by digital attackers, according to this piece in The Guardian.

But SMEs also include many businesses that have little or no in-house IT or security expertise  - so complex on-premise email security just won’t work for them.

Instead, look out for cloud-delivered, as-a-service solutions that major on ease of use (that means, amongst other things, no-maintenance deployment, with 24 x 7 updates, patches and hot-fixes delivered automatically by the vendor).

This kind of solution has the added benefit that it can filter email inline and scan it prior to it reaching the recipient, so threats are intercepted before they touch the business’s network.

Nothing to remediate, no spam to archive, nothing to clean up – good news for resource-starved small businesses.

2. Email clients – cloud’s a must!

Smaller businesses in particular are also turning to hosted email clients like Office 365 and Google Apps, with research showing that nearly two-thirds of small business owners already have an average of three cloud solutions in place.

Combine this with the knowledge that Office 365 has known issues with its ability to detect insecure document content, though, and it’s not enough to just go with a cloud-based email security solution. You also need to choose one that is good at dealing with cloud-based email client vulnerabilities.

Get the last bit wrong and you’re still behind the SME security curve.

3. Threat coverage and awareness

Spam, malware, spyware, phishing and inappropriate content are all known risks that must of course be protected against.

But the underlying question is how the solution’s knowledge of the threat landscape evolves, since it is this process that ultimately protects users against emerging threats like zero-day exploits.

Big data and machine learning algorithms are the key features to look for in this respect, but many vendors are now jumping on this bandwagon, so look at the hard numbers to sort the aspirational from the credible.

Take Trend Micro’s Hosted Email Security (HES) as just one example: over 50 billion website URLs, email sources, and files scanned, correlated, and filtered, with over 7 terabytes of new threat data processed - daily.

That leaves little doubt (and the latest features in Trend Micro HES make convincing reading, too).

4. GDPR compliance

GDPR is never far away from our discussions thesedays, and any cloud-delivered service is now under the microscope with regard to how it protects the privacy of the data that it holds.

Look for a solution backed by data centres that have reached the most stringent privacy certifications - in Europe, these are generally considered to be ISO 9001, ISO 27001, OHSAS18001 (LHR1) and SAS 70 Type II.

5. Ease of partner management

For security partners, there is an added dimension to a choice of security solution: the ease with which they can manage it!

Solutions that are difficult to provision and manage burn through administration resource and gnaw at margins – making them potentially unprofitable.

Look instead for a single security dashboard across all customers, that also works with industry-standard platforms like Autotask, ConnectWise and Kaseya.

This will enable you, for example, to automate monthly usage and reporting management, proactively analyse emerging security threats, and provision new solutions and services more rapidly – without signing into and logging out of multiple systems and tools.

Email security in 2017 – as-a-service solutions to a growing challenge

As long as businesses keep sending and receiving emails, the bad guys will keep using them to try and attack the soft underbelly of businesses.

But to do that, the emails have to get there in the first place – and if they’re getting caught by security in the cloud first, they won’t.

Definitely one to watch for 2017.

DeployManaging licensing processes can bite deep into security MSPs’ margins. But one vendor seems to make it a lot easier. We investigate…

If you’re a managed security service provider, you’ve got an awful lot on your plate when it comes to licensing.

Try to manage it all using different tools and you’ll rapidly flay the flesh from your profitability – and probably send your customer satisfaction levels plummeting, too.

Logically, the solution is to somehow combine all the licensing functions in one place, making them both accessible and easy to use. But is any security vendor actually offering this? And if so, does it really deliver on the promise?

For our money, the answers to these questions are “yes, Trend Micro” and “yes, here’s how”, respectively.

Licensing Management Portal (LMP) – cross-product pain relief

The first thing that is striking about Trend Micro’s Licensing Management Portal (LMP) is that, in contrast to some other so-called “single pane of glass” management tools, it isn’t just available for a core technology that so far only underpins one or two finished products.

Instead, it has already evolved to the point where it is common to pretty much the entire Trend Micro product portfolio

So it makes it possible for MSPs to centrally manage, from a single sign-on system, multiple instances of both “point” solutions like Cloud Application Security (a topic we discuss further in this post), and more comprehensive solutions like the Worry-Free Business Security range.

Let’s not gloss over the pain that this alleviates. It eliminates wait time associated with ordering licences, because LMP is available 24 x 7 x 365. It automates the tracking of renewals and expirations. And it eliminates the complexity and cash-flow risk associated with manual billing.

Remote Manager
LMP, Remote Manager, CLP – a powerful triumvirate of solutions that drastically reduce the costly burden of creating, provisioning, managing and billing MSP licences. More on CLP below. (Click to enlarge)

LMP + Remote Manager = automation

This capability stems in part from the fact that LMP also contains within it Trend Micro’s Remote Manager.

This radically streamlines many of the licensing management processes by plugging them into industry-standard RMM and PSA solutions like Autotask, ConnectWise, Kaseya and LabTech.

So, you no longer have to manually drive your billing process, for example. Instead, LMP can use ConnectWise to auto-issue invoices and create end-to-end billing the moment a new endpoint or device is deployed.

Likewise, there’s a lot less juggling of multiple processes in order to set customers up. LMP syncs with LabTech, so you can map customers from LMP to customers in your LabTech solution, and then, within the latter, just “point and shoot” to deploy, issue licences etc. No jumping around between applications!

LMP and LabTech sync
No jumping around between applications – LMP and LabTech sync, so that deploying and issuing licences to your customers is as simple as a mouse click. (Click to enlarge)

Service plans the way you and your customers want them

Whilst we’re on the point of service plans, it’s worth mentioning that LMP has rewritten the rulebook somewhat in this respect too, offering real flexibility.

You can activate licences into live services in any number of formats – monthly, yearly, quarterly, on receipt of PO – and you can schedule in additional features so that they don’t have to be managed manually.

For example, a new customer that has committed to your services for two years initially, but whose contract needs to revert to a monthly rolling arrangement after this initial period, can have a service plan created in LMP that will deliver this arrangement – automatically.

From where we’re sitting, it’s probably the only example of a service plan mechanism that combines customer-friendly flexibility and features with management tools that don’t place an unsustainable drain on your resources!

Powerful but flexible reporting

Of course, if you can’t easily see what’s billable, automated provisioning and service plans won’t stay viable for very long!

Here, too, LMP shines. Not only is the reporting itself automated, it provides up-to-date detail of everything that has been in any way consumed by the end-user, ensuring that consumption and billing are always in step with each other.

At the same time, the automation allows a window of manual adjustment to cope with cancellations, error correction, atypical deployment scenarios, and other exceptions.

In essence, LMP has enough automation to make the majority of billing scenarios far easier – and far more economical – to manage.

CLP: Convenience for the end-user

But what’s really innovative in LMP, in our view, is that it enables the end-user to manage some of their own licensing, giving them the convenience of direct control, whilst also (let’s be candid) fattening your margins by reducing your workload!

This is because LMP contains a Customer Licensing Portal (CLP), which enables customers to manage licence keys for selected parts of their security estate, based on role. That partial autonomy and flexibility works for them, which makes you look good.

But the fact that the CLP can also carry your own branding will do your business profile no harm at all, either!

“Nobody does it better”, goes the old song. And at the moment, our Trend Micro team seems to be singing it around the office quite a lot. Funny, that.

AppRiver Nautical PlatformAppRiver’s Nautical platform makes all aspects of security service provision manageable from a “single pane of glass”. We look at the benefits.

For security service providers, or resellers wanting to break into the MSP space, there is a double challenge at hand: selecting solutions whose performance will delight their customers, yet that are easy enough to “drive” on a day-to-day basis to prevent margins being eaten away by costly management overheads.

This is why the appearance of AppRiver’s Nautical platform has set our antennae a-twitching. It promises a unified management console that enables service providers to deliver and manage a raft of cloud-based security solutions from one place, without the profit-sapping expense.

Here are just a few ways in which that could benefit service providers and their business.

The business benefits of Nautical, (1): Devolved management

Managing everything from under a “single pane of glass” is a seductive sell, but (I hear you say) doesn’t that just make for a crammed and complex window onto your world, which in turn drives management and admin costs up?

But Nautical turns this on its head, by enabling role-based interaction, so that different users each have different views of what is under the pane and can exercise different levels of control over it – and this includes the end-users themselves.

In this way, management workflows are made more targeted and efficient, but also flexibly devolved to customers where possible - taking even more of the admin burden off the service provider’s desk.

AppRiver Nautical Management
A single pane of glass, multiple kinds of access and interaction - cost reduction through targeted workflows and customer self-service (Click to enlarge)

The business benefits of Nautical, (2): Easy upscaling

Theoretically, cloud-delivered services can easily scale up to meet the needs of increasing numbers of end-users, thus supporting service providers’ revenue growth.

But critical to this process is the ease with which those new users can actually be brought on board. All the cloud service capacity in the world is no money-spinner if it is difficult, time-consuming and costly to connect users to it.

One of the killer new features in Nautical is a configurable user account management function that enables new users to be brought on board, and the overall user count to be increased, very easily.

Previously, this would have entailed multiple workflows in multiple environments; using Nautical, however, it is now a far simpler (and therefore cheaper) process.

AppRiver easy upscaling
More users, more usage, more revenue – and bringing them on board’s a cinch (Click to enlarge)

The business benefits of Nautical, (3): App-style agility and healthchecks

To go back to a previous point, bringing on additional users also inevitably drives demand for more products and services. Any service provider that delivers on the first point but not the second is painting themselves into a corner.

Nautical, however, makes it possible for both service providers and their customers to add and integrate new products and services with the kind of pick-and-mix agility you’d expect from something like an app store.

But (I again hear you ask) doesn’t that, in itself, create another management challenge – namely, monitoring all those disparate products and services without excessive (and expensive) manual intervention?

Here, too, Nautical comes up with the goods, thanks to its cross-product diagnostics that deliver a single, regular, unified application healthcheck to service providers’ customers and all the solutions they’re using.

Apps on demand
Apps on demand – and a unified monitoring and management system to keep them profitable (Click to enlarge)

What else should you know about Nautical?

Nautical has been described as “an entire channel programme in one portal”, but what’s really striking is that this deep integration across all aspects of security service provision comes at no charge.

Nautical simply becomes automatically available when a service provider chooses to deliver AppRiver’s security solutions – including anti-spam / anti-virus, web protection, email encryption, Exchange and mailbox protection – and this of course covers existing AppRiver service providers, too.

All in all, Nautical takes the hard work out of delivering MSP services that can really boost service providers’ bottom line, by making all business activities manageable from one place.

Now that really is something you should know.

Trend Micro HESTrend Micro HES has long been an attractive cloud solution for users who want email security without on-site hassle. Read how it just got better!

We see a lot of email security solutions, but it’s fair to say that Trend Micro’s Hosted Email Security (HES) has recently upped its game to deliver a user experience that’s slicker, protection that’s broader and more agile, and service management that’s easier (and therefore ultimately more profitable!)

Here’s how Trend has taken HES to the next level.

New in Trend Micro HES, (1): Smoother interface, better data insights

Trend has now extended the successful interface designs found elsewhere in its stable of solutions to HES too, meaning that if you can “drive” other Trend solutions (like Worry-Free or OfficeScan), you can now just as easily drive HES.

For both end-users and service providers, this potentially means smoother workflows, easier internal adoption, lower training and implementation costs, and, overall, sharper ROI.

Trend Micro HES Dashboard
Trend has brought HES into line with its standard interface design and given its threat analysis tools a shot in the arm.

An improved dashboard in the solution now also makes it easier for end-users and service providers to glean more information about the threats they face, thanks to advanced analysis details and top advanced threat charts.

New in Trend Micro HES, (2): Sandboxing now comes for free!

Sandboxing – the ability, in the context of the SMTP protocol, to take mail offline and rigorously test it for threats before it reaches the recipient – is a potent tool in the security partner’s armoury.

But, typically, it’s also very costly – and it’s here that Trend has broken the mould. HES now includes free-of-charge access to new sandboxing solutions including Advanced Threat Scan Engine and Social Engineering Attack Protection.

Tick a box, get sandboxing for free – Trend’s Christmas present to service providers seeking to add value to their customers’ accounts!

Advanced Threat Scan Engine uses combined pattern-based and heuristic scanning to not only combat known email threats, but identify characteristics and behaviours that can suggest new ones (making it particularly effective against stealth threats like ransomware and zero-day exploits).

Social Engineering Attack Protection (now built into the AntiSpam Engine) is part of Trend’s recently much-vaunted machine learning stable, which includes the XGEN solutions.

It detects suspicious behaviour in multiple parts of each email transmission, including the email header, subject line, email body, attachments, and the SMTP protocol information.

Suspect messages are returned to Hosted Email Security for further action or policy enforcement, ensuring the attack does not reach its target.

These services are easy to activate too, by simply ticking a policy check box – convenient for end-users and service providers alike.

New in Trend Micro HES, (3): Protection against spoofing

Spoofed email identities are the gateway to unwitting activation of all manner of threats, from phishing, to whaling, to dangerous attachment payloads, and more.

HES now supports DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) signatures in both incoming and outgoing messages. These authenticate the domain name associated with a message to detect any mismatches, which in turn protects users against receiving messages that have been tampered with – for instance, to spoof the sender name.

Protection against spoofing
Spoof email? That’s so passé!

New in Trend Micro HES, (4): Marketing-friendly segregated email

Trend has consistently led the field in anti-spam protection, but the reality is that what is often defined as marketing spam can in fact be a source of new opportunities or competitor intelligence for some departments in your customers’ businesses.

For this reason, HES now offers email segregation, which enables certain types of user or policy group within the end-user’s organisation to choose to receive marketing and promotional email (whilst still subjecting it, of course, to all the other new and existing HES security features).

Marketing-friendly segregated email
Yes, please market to me! Or just don’t, OK?

New in Trend Micro HES, (5): Time-of-Click Web Protection

Boosting Trend’s already significant arsenal of web reputation and security solutions, Time-of-Click protection automatically rewrites URLs contained in received emails.

This means that the default action when a user clicks on these links is not to take them straight to the site concerned, but to submit that underlying site to Trend for real-time prior security and reputation analysis.

Lucky Trend automatically rewrote this URL and checked it before the recipient got taken to the site…

The delay for the user in accessing a legitimate site is fractional, but the protection against accessing non-legitimate sites is comprehensive, since no access is granted until HES has confirmed that the site is not a source of threats or reputational damage.

More on what’s new in Trend Micro HES

There’s not the space here to cover off all the detail, but suffice it to say that Trend’s latest version of HES delivers additional benefits that could enable service providers to really differentiate their offering in both existing and new accounts.

Here’s a full list – and you know where to come if you want to discuss it!

mcafee-end-of-life-3Who can security partners and end-users turn to once McAfee products are end-of-lifed? We look at some compelling options.

In one of our recent posts, we highlighted some of the likely disruption caused by Intel’s ongoing end-of-life (EOL) programme for many of its McAfee-branded products.

But EOL must not spell end-of-business, and although we certainly haven’t discovered the secret of eternal life, our research found there are more than enough security vendors and solutions “out there” to fill McAfee’s shoes!

Here’s our shortlist.

Goodbye (and hello) Endpoint Encryption

“People are still the biggest security risks”, proclaims this article in CIO.com.

Yet in June 2017, McAfee is EOL-ing its Endpoint Encryption solution - arguably one of the most effective methods of ensuring that endpoints lost by employees, or stolen from them, cannot surrender their valuable data..

(And its migration path seems murky, involving a product name change and an upgrade.)

Enter its Trend Micro namesake, which enables security partners and end-users to remotely encrypt, lock and wipe any endpoint – including desktop, laptop, mobile, and removable media – so that businesses can still enjoy productivity-boosting mobility, without the associated data breach risk.

Trend Micro Endpoint Encryption also features automated methods of deploying and policing encryption and security policies, plus comprehensive audit and compliance records to satisfy the regulators (a big deal in the light of the approaching GDPR law!)

Fighting evil in the email

The demise of McAfee’s Email Gateway is not due to happen until 2021 – but, at the same time, the evolution of email-borne threats is likely to hasten the search for a replacement, rather than give it breathing space.

Indeed, with the Verizon Data Breach Report recently stating that 77% of malware infections are now due to users receiving a malicious email with a web link or attachment, according to this white paper, security partners and end-users alike need to move fast to secure alternatives.

Vendors’ offerings in this area are diverse, but compelling. Malwarebytes, for example, rolls email protection into an overall layered security approach that does not displace or conflict with existing security solutions – a boon for partners (it offers them an easy additional revenue stream) and end-users (it doesn’t disturb their current security arrangements) alike.

Trend Micro, for its part, offers multiple email security solutions for both SMB and Enterprise clients. Hosted Email Security solution has achieved 99% blocking effectiveness in independent tests, and takes the security maintenance headache off customers’ desks, as updates, patches and hot fixes are delivered 24x 7 by Trend’s own teams.

Smart Protection Complete, for its part, protects not only mail servers and gateways but also the cloud-based collaboration applications like Office 365 on which end-user businesses are increasingly reliant.

Finally, another convincing contender is Bitdefender, whose products have been rated the best tested for corporate security and performance by independent test lab AV-TEST. Its email security solutions within the GravityZone product set also boast the top antispam detection rates and can be installed in minutes!

Mobile security: a moving target

Keeping mobile devices  - official or otherwise - secure in populous, often geographically diverse enterprise environments is always a challenge, but when your chosen security solution ups sticks and disappears into the sunset (as McAfee’s Enterprise Mobility Management will do in January 2017) it’s time to seriously start nailing down alternative options.

Again, Trend Micro plays pretty strongly in this space, with a comprehensive mobile security and management offering (within Smart Protection Complete) that combines protection (DLP, VPN, app control, web filtering, gateway anti-virus etc.) with centralised visibility and control.

The latter means that the entire enterprise’s mobility is easily secured and managed from a single “pane of glass”, taking the pressure off partners and end-user security admins at the same time (a feature also be found, in similar form, in Bitdefender’s GravityZone Security for Mobile Devices).

EOL for McAfee? New beginnings for your security.

This is just a snapshot of the many new opportunities that McAfee’s EOL programme unearths for the security partners who resell solutions or deliver them as MSPs, and the end-users whose business integrity depends on them.

It may be EOL for many McAfee solutions, but that’s AOK when you’ve got a plan to move to something better.

(Psssst! Have you got a plan to move to something better?)

End of Road for McAfee Email Security SolutionsAs many McAfee security products slide into end-of-life, we take a look at how it could affect end-users, MSPs and resellers.

Forgive us for being forward, here, but if you didn’t read our last post on the McAfee security products that have entered, or are entering, end-of-life (EOL), you probably need to.

Just to recap, many McAfee EOL products simply don’t have a like-for-like migration path, according to McAfee’s own EOL support pages. In fact, many of them apparently don’t have a migration path at all, and those that do have a distinctly oblique one, involving renamed products and (presumably more expensive) updates.

So if you’re a McAfee end-user, are you worried? If you’re a McAfee MSP or reseller, should you be worried, too?

Worry is never helpful – so here are the plain facts about the McAfee EOL products and how their withdrawal will ultimately affect end-users, MSPs and resellers alike.

Which McAfee products does this EOL problem affect?

Since Intel’s acquisition of McAfee in 2011, there has been a concerted focus on EOL-ing those products that are not core to Intel’s strategy, and so the complete list is a long one.

But three that we think will grab most end-users’ and partners’ attention are:

  • Email Gateway
  • Enterprise Mobility Management
  • Endpoint Encryption

What will this mean for end-users and partners?

Bluntly, whether you’re an end-user or a security partner, EOL means what it says on the tin, or at least in the McAfee end-of-life policy; support for the software product simply stops (“Support contracts cannot extend beyond the end-of-life date”).

Support, of course, includes patches – a critical weapon in the struggle to keep security software updated against new or emerging threats – and so a security product kept in service beyond its EOL date is likely to rapidly become no kind of security product at all.

Map the McAfee products that are going / have gone EOL to the current risk profile of the cyber threat universe and the picture looks even more alarming.

  • McAfee is EOL-ing Email Gateway, yet… malware analysis in this publication shows email-borne malware hit 705 million quarantined messages from just one security vendor in just one month of 2015 alone!
  • McAfee is EOL-ing Enterprise Mobility Management, a solution that enables IT teams and security providers to keep large-scale official and unofficial mobile use in large businesses secure - yet McAfee also admits that the unique mobile malware samples collected in its own laboratories increased 72% from Q3 to Q4 in 2015!
  • McAfee is EOL-ing Endpoint Encryption, yet… the loss or breach of customer data from a mislaid or stolen device that this kind of technology can prevent is about to become a source of huge financial risk to businesses because of the draconian provisions of the forthcoming GDPR legislation!

In short, McAfee are pulling the plug exactly where the bad guys are starting to focus most attention – and that can only end badly for end-users and partners alike.

 But MSPs and resellers can get custom support, right?

Don’t you bet on it. Although custom support, beyond the EOL date, is theoretically available, it’s on McAfee’s say-so – reseller, MSP, end-user or whoever else you are. As they state in their policy, it is “an exception”, not the rule.

Clearly, it also costs. Not only that, it requires an existing current and continuous support contract to be in place, provides only limited content updates, for a limited time period, and with specific terms and conditions.

(Oh, and it never covers hardware of any kind, even if you bought the original solution on a hardware platform).

Does all this infuse the need to migrate to other solutions with a certain sense of urgency?

What happens next?

But knowing you have to migrate is little use if you don’t have any help as to where you might migrate to.

In the last blog in this series, we’ll be exploring some of the other security vendors’ offerings, and discussing whether they’re a good fit for partners and end-users looking to leave McAfee’s EOL products behind.

Keep watching!

cloud-application-controlWhat customers' employees do within web, cloud and social apps can be a significant threat to their business. We look at how they can limit the risks.

We recently took a look at vendors’ web security offerings, and came to the conclusion, in this post, that much of this risk landscape is being driven by employees and their ceaseless interactions with the raft of web, cloud and social media applications on which so many agile business processes now depend.

As this excellent piece in ITPro explains, it is now imperative for businesses to “understand exactly how data is moving in, around and out of your organisation”, and to provide the “visibility and the ability to discover, analyse and control the information staff are accessing or sharing.”

Whether businesses are updating marketing posts on Facebook, drilling down into Salesforce, uploading price lists to Dropbox, liking comments on Twitter, or using cloud data storage applications (as some 52% of small and medium-sized businesses in the US alone seem now to be doing, according to this Cloudwards article), the potential for both intentional and unintentional data compromise or reputational damage is high.

So how do security vendors tackle this end-user challenge, and create cloud application control solutions that MSPs and other partners can sell and provision to customers profitably?

 Cloud application control: the all-seeing-eye?

The first thing to say here is that cloud application security is not simply about automatically blocking malware, or filtering out clicks on risky URLs, or scanning for abusive language.

Rather, it is about being able to visualise and analyse all users’ application activity simultaneously and in one place, make informed human business risk decisions on it, and, where necessary, change parameters and automated settings to suit.

So, for example, why is a user uploading or deleting a profile image? Are they trying to hide their identity?

Why is someone removing a public link – was something there that should not have been exposed to public view in the first place? If so, how do you address the process failure that allowed such a link to then be posted?

Why is someone permanently deleting files from a recycle bin – are they trying to cover their tracks? For what reason?

With or without malicious intent, these are potentially damaging behaviours – but it takes a human eye to assess them, and that can only happen if all relevant information and alerts are assembled in one dashboard, where they are easy to interpret, at minimum management overhead.

Cloud application control consoles are therefore critical, enabling end-user and MSP alike to monitor and manage both users’ behaviours and the service that is being delivered.

Cloud app control – it’s not everywhere

Yet take a look at the “Treacherous 12” top cloud computing threats recently listed by the Cloud Security Alliance at the recent RSA Cybersecurity Conference, as reported in this Infoworld article, and it hardly paints a picture of a cloud application risk landscape that has been comprehensively tamed.

On the one hand, this presents a healthy sales opportunity for MSPs, who can deliver cloud application control solutions as an inroad into new clients.

But it also provides MSPs with a means of protecting themselves against the ever more litigious risks associated with other cloud applications that they already deliver to their customers.

To give just one rather urgent example, according to this TechTarget article some 75% of all cloud apps used in European enterprises are out of compliance with the new EU data protection regulations that are set to take effect in less than two years – and any MSP providing or provisioning them will be liable, as the incumbent “data processor”, for any security breaches sustained.

Overlaying cloud application control on these existing apps could help to significantly reduce many MSPs’ exposure to this kind of risk, or at least expel any ambiguity as to what is a breach occasioned by vulnerabilities in the application itself, and what is a breach caused by risky operator interaction with the cloud application environment.

Who sells cloud application control solutions?

Unsurprisingly, these factors (and others) have encouraged industry analysts to comment enthusiastically on the projected rise of cloud application-specific security solutions. Channel Pro, for example, has cited Gartner’s statement that, in 2016, 25% of enterprises will use a cloud access security broker.

But this presents something of a difficulty, given that there are actually so few vendors producing solutions in this space.

One player that has broken the mould, however, is CensorNet, and for good reason. It has developed a cloud app control solution that hits on all the critical MSP hot buttons at once – it is white-labelled to boost the MSP’s brand profile, can be up and running without infrastructure costs, is deployable in minutes, and offers stellar system performance and scalability thanks to its proxy-less architecture.

Yet one swallow does not a summer make. Can MSPs take cloud application control mainstream with so few vendors in the frame?

Put it this way, they’re going to let down a lot of customers if they don’t. Consider this: the average employee already accesses seven different web applications at work, but according to one recent article, 58% of respondents had no training in how to use those apps safely, 39% were unaware of the risks associated with them, and 44% hadn’t been trained in how to transfer and store corporate data securely.

Add to that the revelation, in the same article, that 23% of respondents have already experienced cloud data losses or breaches, and 20% have reported unauthorised access to their data or services, and the need for organisations to understand who is doing what in the cloud, to what, and why, is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s a critical imperative.

Over to you, MSPs...

Cloud App SecurityOffice 365, Google Drive, Sharepoint: businesses love them, but we ask if security vendors do enough to help partners address their known vulnerabilities – profitably!

In a recent post, we looked at the known security limitations of cloud-delivered applications like Office 365, Google Drive, Sharepoint, and others.

As we pointed out, identifying security weaknesses in these platforms and providing cloud app customers with solutions to them can prove profitable, according to industry commentators – but are security vendors even addressing this space in the first place, let alone in a way that enables vendors to make viable margins out of it?

Cloud application security: how big is the pie?

The first point we need to make here is that the potential market for these kind of security solutions is big and growing. Since 2011, as this Worldwide Cloud Applications Market Forecast 2015 – 2019 shows, the Cloud applications market has more than doubled, and now accounts for 20% of the overall enterprise applications space.

By 2019, Cloud applications subscription revenues could make up 35% of the total addressable market opportunity.

Captured amongst all that, of course, are the very applications businesses most want MSPs and other partners to provide – hosted email, file sharing, collaboration, and so on.

And these are the very applications that, whilst delivered in a secure manner, are not fully able to secure the content that passes through them, making them vulnerable to risks like advanced and hidden malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, leaking of sensitive data, file sharing on unauthorised devices, and remote user network breaches.

In short, there’s plenty of pie available – and cloud application security is potentially the utensil that enables MSPs and other partners to carve themselves a sizeable slice of it!

Delivering security for cloud apps: how hard can it be?

But the second point we have to consider is that cloud applications need security that is built expressly for cloud computing conditions – and existing security techniques fall down badly in this respect, resulting in few solutions that are fit for purpose.

Just take a look at traditional web monitoring, for example – it funnels traffic out of the cloud and into a separate service, adding significant latency that negatively impacts both performance and capacity.

Only if pre-cloud approaches are consigned to the dustbin, and direct cloud-to-cloud API integration is offered in its stead, can vendors play strongly in this space, and partners reap the benefits.

In this scenario, a literally instant cloud app security deployment is possible, requiring nothing more than the submission of administrator credentials for the apps in question.

Bundling, licensing, pricing – can partners make money out of cloud app security?

Quite apart from the fact that very few vendors are actually active in the cloud app security space in any serious way, my third point is as much to do with the partner model as it is with the scarcity of those offerings.

Even if solutions were plentiful, reselling them in a subscription or perpetual licensing model produces the same challenges that any other reseller in any other IT market encounters – high upfront subscription costs, unpredictable income, lack of flexibility to scale services up and down (and missing out on the additional revenue that such upscaling generates).

The risks of this approach are well documented - but then if so few vendors are in this space in the first place, how many of them do we think are in a position to offer the potentially more profitable MSP alternative?

Then there’s the question of how vendors actually incorporate cloud app security offerings into their overall security portfolio – or don’t! Currently, the view from the bridge here is that one prominent vendor is now bundling cloud app security within its existing security services, in a cloud-based MSP model, at no extra licensing charge – but other vendors haven’t even started to play catch-up on this.

In conclusion: cloud app security vendors could do better

There it is, then: cloud app security solutions are rarer than hen’s teeth!

They demand an instantly deployable, cloud-centric architecture that most security vendors simply haven’t applied to this space, a margin-rich partner model that the vast majority of vendors seem unready to offer, and a “business as usual” attitude to bundling that, for many vendors, seems too radical a string to add to their bow.

That massive cloud app pie is there for the securing – but, as it stands, most vendors aren’t even making a dent in the crust, still less serving up anything that profit-hungry partners would find a tasty proposition.