Why closing cyber skills gap remains critical today
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Why closing cyber skills gap remains critical today

Why closing cyber skills gap remains critical today

The threat landscape is unpredictable, with many moving parts as well as social and economic changes affecting it all of the time says Alain Penel, regional VP – Middle East at Fortinet


How do you think the Middle East cybersecurity landscape has evolved since the start of the pandemic? What new trends have you witnessed?

No one can deny the speed and efficiency at which the Middle East, particularly the UAE, has transformed its remote workforce strategies and its remarkable capability to cope with the changes in how organisations interact with their customers. This swift change introduced challenges – be it cybersecurity or connectivity – these challenges have accelerated the market demand for technologies that the cybersecurity industry has had on the introduction and growth slopes for a while. Technologies and practices such as remote worker security solutions, multifactor authentication, zero trust approach with Zero Trust Access (ZTA) and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), further cloud adoption and SASE are actual examples.

Tell us about Fortinet’s expanding portfolio of security services.

Enterprises need more than siloed solutions in today’s complex and rapidly changing threat environment. Fortinet security fabric answers their security challenges; the integrated platform is designed to span the extended network while providing consistent security and performance across all edges. Our portfolio broadly encompasses solutions spanning network security, secure SD-WAN, switching and wireless access, network access control, authentication, public and private cloud security, endpoint security, and AI-driven advanced threat protection solutions – all built on a common operating system, FortiOS.

What are the advantages of secure SD-WAN for financial service organisations?

Financial service organisations have long dealt with the challenge of providing secure and reliable connectivity to their branch offices, which are often spread out across cities, states, and even countries. But as more employees adopted a new hybrid-work model as a result of the pandemic, this issue only grew more complicated due to an increase in the number of remote users requiring access to the corporate network. Financial service organisations need secure connectivity solutions that can provide fast, compliant and secure access to the cloud-based applications and the core network. With the right secure SD-WAN solution in place, they can enjoy the combined benefits of NGFW, WAN optimisation, automation and traffic shaping, among others such as centralised management and reporting.

Closing the cyber skills gap remains critical today. How is Fortinet shaping the future of cybersecurity and developing new talent?

Fortinet is working to close the skills gap with programmes like the NSE Training Institute and its Training Advancement Agenda (TAA) initiative in order to provide cybersecurity training and certifications, career growth resources and hiring opportunities to make a career in cyber attainable for all. In addition, we collaborate with global leaders to foster a skilled, inclusive and diverse cyber workforce and through our education outreach programme, partnerships extend to various sectors, including academia, government and nonprofits. We are also helping develop a cyber-aware workforce with the information security awareness and training service, introduced in 2020 free of cost for organisations of all size, suitable for the entire workforce, from technical to non-technical employees and contractors.

Moving towards the business angle, what is driving the growth of Fortinet in the Middle East? 

Among all the cybersecurity solutions we offer, we see strong interest for secure SD-WAN as well as for public cloud migration, and along with it, its security best practices. Moreover, OT (Operational Technology) is gaining momentum in the region.

What are the advantages of working with distributors and channel partners? Despite the increased competition in the market, how do you ensure they work with you?

Fortinet supports partners’ goals for their business, allowing them to differentiate offerings and helping them leverage the breadth of the security fabric. Thanks to the Fortinet engage partner programme, they can meet new and changing customer demands created by the new hybrid-work model. A few months ago, we added new consumption models for various products, including FortiSIEM and FortiEDR, enhancing benefits for cloud partners and introducing new specialisations such as zero-trust access, operational technology and security operations. In addition, customised training, certifications, and programmes are available for each of these specialisations. We look forward to continuing to contribute to our partner’s success.

With 2022 only a few months away, what is in store for customers when it comes to safeguarding their businesses for the future?

The threat landscape is unpredictable, with many moving parts and social and economic changes affecting it all of the time. Ransomware is one of the most concerning threats to come out of the semiannual FortiGuard Labs Global Threat Landscape Report, and so is malware and botnets. Apart from taking a holistic approach to security, automated threat detection and AI remain essential to enable organisations to address attacks in real-time and mitigate attacks at speed and scale across all edges. In addition, cybersecurity user awareness training is as vital as ever, with anyone being a possible target of cyberattacks.

Which are your key markets in the region, and how do you plan to expand your footprint?

Some of our key markets in the Middle East region are government, financial services, telcos, oil and gas, utilities and transportation, among others. Thanks to our resources across the region, we stay close to our customers and partners. In addition, the solutions we provide allow businesses to stay ahead of cybercriminals and support their digital innovation initiatives.

Being one of the leading security vendors, what set you apart from the rest?

We continue to differentiate ourselves by accelerating the convergence of networking and security. For the past 21 years, Fortinet has focused on developing a comprehensive security platform designed to protect all network edges, adapt to digital innovation requirements, and unify networking and security functions into a single solution. As an integral part of the Fortinet security fabric, our FortiGate Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) enable a security-driven networking approach to protect any network edge and any user at scale while ensuring high performance.

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