The channel has an important role to play in bridging the cyber security skills gap


By Ian Ashworth, EMEA Channel Director at Netwrix

Despite the continued growth of the IT security sector, the cyber security skills gap is widening, with a projected shortfall of 350,000 such professionals in Europe by 2022, according to a (ISC)2 forecast. Businesses require highly qualified information security professionals to protect their information assets against cyber threats and avoid fines for non-compliance, but often find recruiting for these roles a challenge. The cyber security skills gap poses a significant challenge for UK companies, but channel organisations can help to tackle this. Those channel partners who help businesses fill this gap at no extra cost are sure to find themselves in high demand. In this article, I will outline top tips that channel organisations can follow in order to achieve this.

Include cross-system products into a portfolio

Modern IT infrastructures are hybrid, which means that structured and unstructured sensitive data is spread across on-premise and cloud-based storage. Each of those silos has unique built-in access controls and capabilities, making it hard to maintain systems’ security. Unfortunately, most organisations lack the resources that are necessary to manage such complex systems; this might result in a piecemeal security approach and increase the risk of data breaches occurring.

To help customers solve this challenge, a channel organisation can offer solutions that can support all critical systems by default from a single interface and enable them to streamline both compliance and security controls. Moreover, certain solutions for data protection are so scalable that they can be easily integrated with any system within an organisation’s IT infrastructure via an open API, thus, enabling customers to adjust the technology to their changing needs. Such technologies help customers achieve their security goals and reduce the costs of their workforce.

Offer easy-to-use solutions

Complexity of security solutions presents challenges to customers, because complex technologies require qualified specialists, as well as time and resources. Customers might spend up to several months on the deployment of certain technologies. The majority of companies do not have such resources at their disposal. Nevertheless, they have to keep their systems and data under control and ensure they are protected in accordance with major compliance standards such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Therefore, they may look for lightweight solutions that are sufficient to meet their business needs.

To win over customers, a channel organisation should offer solutions that can be easily deployed even by small IT teams. Lightweight solutions often have short time-to-value, which means that a customer achieves desirable results fast. Such solutions might not monitor all possible events within a customer’s IT infrastructure, but they will collect only the most important ones, and automate routine security processes. This approach enables customers’ IT teams to focus on issues that are more critical, for instance, the enforcement of security policies. Indeed, preventing employees from violating security policies and falling victim to malicious emails is more important than trawling through weeks of log data trying to answer questions on an incident.

Offer ongoing development and training

In the cyber security space, professional expertise is everything. A channel organisation that invests in the best talent will shine. Customers will appreciate a partner who acts like a trusted advisor aiming to solve their challenges and will reward them with long-time contracts and increased margin and profitability.

Hiring strong professionals is the first necessary step, but another crucial measure is to retain them and to develop the in-house expertise. To achieve this, a channel organisation should become the best place to work. This includes providing employees with educational opportunities. Leveraging certification programmes and training from vendors can be a good way to educate an organisation’s team at no extra cost.

Enhance service capabilities

Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS) is a huge trend that has emerged in response to the aforementioned skills gap. According to IDC, managed security services represent the fastest-growing security category with 14.3 percent CAGR between 2016 and 2021. This does not mean that every channel partner has to rush for an MSSP business model. However, it makes sense to consider this trend and respond to it, in a way that benefits a channel organisation’s business.

A channel organisation can start developing its services as one-time activities. For example, it can help customers to enhance their security posture by conducting an IT risks assessment. Customers hold numerous IT assets across the organisation that could be harmed by threats in a way that would result in a monetary loss. Therefore, they will appreciate a partner who will help them conduct a proper IT risk assessment, enhance their IT infrastructures, and reduce such risks. When a channel organisation establishes a workflow for one-time activities, it can go further. For example, it’s advisable to start managing security services for customers that are the most crucial for their needs.

The cyber security skills shortage is a big market trend that is here to stay. There is no doubt that it will shape the way channel organisations deliver their services to customers. The good news is that every channel organisation can find its own way to meet market demand and win deals by taking steps to help organisations navigate this growing challenge.