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TOWARDS INTEGRATED, INTELLIGENCE-DRIVEN SECURITY SOLUTIONS

Manish Alshi, Head of Channels and Growth Technologies - India & SAARC, Check point software technologies.
Manish Alshi, Head of Channels and Growth Technologies - India & SAARC, Check point software technologies.

Check Point addresses the most imminent cyber security needs of organizations based on three core principles i.e., Prevention-first approach, Gold Standard Management, and Consolidated Solution.

“With the largest security technology portfolio in the industry, Check Point Software’s single-architecture, integrated, intelligence-driven solutions protect customers from the data center to the cloud and all points in between.”

Manish Alshi, Head of Channels and Growth Technologies – India & SAARC, Check point software technologies

As we usher into 2022, it’s time to look back and take stock of the channel performance of leading vendors and distributors and the key achievements and take-aways from the Channel Market. More than this, it’s pivotal to get a hang of the key predictions for the Channel Market for the year 2023.

The year gone by will go down the memory lane as a year of mixed experience. Starting from the widening market opportunities to a somewhat visible respite from the raving pandemic, from being the year of Europe’s greatest war since World War II that pushed the pandemic-battered global economy and the European markets into recession to a year of greater cybersecurity concerns — 2022 has seen it all.

In a series of interactions with the poster-boys of Indian IT, SME Channels embarks upon understanding how leading vendors have fared in the year goneby; what drives their growth engine; the key milestones for 2023 set from the channel perspective; key channel predictions for the New Year; direction for channel partners and their growth roadmap for 2023.

We spoke to leading Cybersecurity player Check Point to get a sneak peek into its performance in the channel market and its key channel predictions for 2023.

In an exclusive chat with SME Channels, Manish Alshi, Head of Channels and Growth Technologies – India & SAARC, Check point software technologies, reveals his company’s key channel Predictions for 2023, major achievements and the unique matrixes that design his seminal vision for the Partner Ecosystem. Edited Excerpts:

Please give a brief introduction of your company. 

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. is a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions to corporate enterprises and governments globally. For the last three decades, we have set the standard for cybersecurity services in the industry as our solutions provide a consolidated range of products. Our 5,400 dedicated employees worldwide cater to 100,000 organizations of varying sizes across 88 counties and our multilevel security solutions focus on preventing attacks, not just detecting after the attack has happened.

We have a robust product portfolio to enable our customers with the ability to conduct their business on the internet with the highest level of security. We address organizations’ most imminent cyber security needs based on three core principles i.e., Prevention-first approach, Gold Standard Management, and Consolidated Solution. With the largest security technology portfolio in the industry, Check Point Software’s single-architecture, integrated, intelligence-driven solutions protect customers from the data center to the cloud and all points in between.

We are constantly innovating and building our product portfolio to provide uncompromised security to our clients. We have categorized our 80 products and technologies into four main pillars: Check Point Harmony, Check Point CloudGuard, Check Point Quantum, and our newly announced, Check Point Horizon, a prevention-first security operations suite, providing SOC teams with the tools and services needed to prevent attacks in real-time with fewer resources. We have extended our Check Point Quantum portfolio with Quantum Lightspeed Firewalls to introduce the biggest network security revolution in the last decade. Recently, we also extended collaboration with Intel Corporation to offer enhanced anti-ransomware capabilities for Check Point Harmony’s customers.

In 2022, Check Point in its annual event CPX 360 customer conference announced its rebranding in nearly 30 years. As a part of the rebranding, Gil Shwed, founder and CEO of the company introduced the new tagline ‘You Deserve the Best Security’ and the company’s new logo which marked a new strategic drive by Check Point to urge organizations to implement comprehensive ‘prevent-first’ security solutions capable of dealing with the cyber pandemic and attacks of any vector.

As the war in Europe refuses to end anytime soon and China bubbles with uncertainty and the world economy are yet to come out of the pandemic shock, what major Security trends would you forecast for 2023? 

Over the past two years, with the pandemic outbreak and the rising geopolitical tensions, cyber-attacks have witnessed a significant increase making it a top priority for the boardroom agenda for most organizations. As per Check Point’s Threat Intelligence report, cyberattacks across all industries have increased by 28% in the third quarter of 2022 as compared to the previous year. As per the recent PwC survey, in India, over 82% of business executives foresee an increase in cybersecurity budgets in 2023. Here are some broad trends for 2023:

  • Hacktivism is on the rise: According to Check Point research, the second-most targeted industry in the world is the government sector. CPR believes the Russian-Ukrainian war has proliferated the new model of hacktivism significantly. This new model of hacktivism is better organized, structured and more sophisticated. In the third quarter of this year, governments were on the receiving end of 1,564 weekly attacks on average, representing a 20% increase YoY. In India, in the last six months, government authorities/departments received close to 3,354 attacks weekly per organization. Major corporations and government authorities are being heavily targeted by this emerging type of hacktivism, and sometimes individuals as well. The trend is expected to further rise in 2023.
  • Phishing attempts to increase: While phishing attempts against business and personal email accounts are an everyday threat. In 2023, it is expected that criminals will widen their aim to target business collaboration tools such as Slack, Teams, OneDrive, and Google Drive with phishing exploits. As per The Cyberwire, phishing attacks will increase its frequency in 2023, specifically via LinkedIn accounts.
  • No respite from ransomware: Recent Check Point’s mid-year security report revealed that ransomware was the leading threat for organizations in the first half of 2022. In 2023, it is expected that criminal groups will continue to evolve and grow with smaller agile groups to evade law enforcement.
  • Weaponizing deepfakes: In October 2022, a deepfake of U.S. President Joe Biden singing ‘Baby Shark’ instead of the national anthem was circulated across the world. In 2023, Deepfakes technology will be increasingly used to target and manipulate opinions, or to trick employees for giving up access to their credentials. Experts at Check Point believe that deepfakes will go mainstream with hacktivists as cybercriminals will be seen leveraging video and voicemails for conducting a successful phishing or a ransomware attack.
  • 5G to accelerate cyberattacks: With the adoption of 5G services in India and the increase in IoT usage, the magnitude of cyber-attacks is set to rise. Hackers would also be seen carrying out Gen V and Gen VI sophisticated cyber-attacks. In 2023, it will be imperative for organizations to deploy IoT security solutions to protect these devices. Not just for organizations but individual scams will also be seen on the rise. For instance, Check Point recently issued an advisory featuring security measures around the latest 4G to 5G SIM upgradation phishing scams in India.
  • Using AI to fuel cybercrime: The AI took from OpenAI, ChatGPT can significantly alter the cyber threat landscape as anyone with minimal resources and zero knowledge in coding can easily exploit the software to generate malicious emails. malware and code. These AI technologies represent another step forward toward the dangerous evolution of increasingly sophisticated and effective cyber-attacking capabilities.

What key megatrends do you foresee emerging in the channel market? 

The channel ecosystem has undergone massive transition in the last two years. Looking ahead at 2023, organizations will use analytics to gain insights for improving their channel partner engagement. This will result in incremental sales growth and improved cost-effectiveness and will further optimize the channel partner and brand relationship.

We also foresee the rise of channel sales influencers. Trade sales and marketing leaders are actively engaging influencers for driving last-mile sales and collecting a lot of behavioural and transactional insights to optimize their supply chain, product innovation, and overall customer value proposition in the market.

Companies will also continue to make regular investments in channel research to understand the communication preferences of channel partners. They will develop digital products and mobile apps which are accessible and simplify the participation of channel partners in any program. These initiatives will thereby drive engagement, brand recall, and in turn, sales, and profits.

Which areas you want to focus in the channel – skillsets – sales and marketing, vertical and technology practice development, service capability, etc.?

We have been focusing on delivering the best growth opportunities for our partners. In 2022, we assisted our partners in creating new markets with Infinity, SMB and MSSP Programs. Through our new Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) Program we removed administrative burdens and empowered a partner service-led approach. We are continuing to make strides in creating and executing the best partner experience in the areas of predictability, profitability, and ease of doing business.

Our training and certification program through online and in-person partner enablement platforms offers partners best-in-class training courses to assess, sell, deploy, and support security solutions. With these new training programs and initiatives, we are doubling on our commitment in helping our partners earn new business and strengthen relationships with existing clients.

As a result of our efforts, we were able to increase our deal registrations substantially, year on year. We onboarded 120+ new partners, who underwent our comprehensive training and certification program. We also conducted a Partner Trust Survey in 2021 in India, to re-calibrate partner expectations and ensure that our partnership strategy is being driven by the feedback we receive from our partners. We look to grow and expand our partner community in 2023 as well.

What percentage of budget growth are you expecting for channel development? 

With the range of our new and improved channel programs and as a 100% channel-led organisation, Check Point continually looks to expand our partner community, to support customers in the various sectors in need of prevention-first security.

Whilst we are unable to delve into specific numbers, we are looking to grow our partner community and partner revenue in 2023 with our prevention-first security offerings and new services such as the Horizon SOC services, that will greatly support organisations which are facing the impact of skilled talent gap within their organisations.

What is your expectation from the channel this year? 

For starters, a lot of system integration partners are either establishing or strengthening their cyber security practice, with a growing number of partners coming on board across the spectrum. With the pandemic outbreak, the necessity of robust cyber security solutions has been more pronounced than ever, irrespective of the organization’s size.

Further, we foresee cyber security industry to witness a paradigm shift in their business models backed by a growing demand for services (security as a service). In the longer term, partners with deep technical skills across implementation and day 2 support will thrive and sustain. The servicing capabilities are likely to boost their profitability and hence, is an important cog in the wheel for this stream of business.

Last but not least, in the medium- to long-term, the industry is expected to witness consolidation of solutions across the cyber security domain, as customers increasingly adopt a single pane of cyber security management. OEMs with a broader product portfolio that is seamlessly integrated, are more likely to be preferred by customers for management ease. This will also reflect on the channel ecosystem, as solution providers and system integrators with wide-ranging technical expertise will become a preferable choice for the customers.

Are you planning any new product addition for the channel market? 

We are intensifying our SMB product portfolio, which is primarily a channel -led go to market strategy. This includes:

  • Enterprise grade network security, highly integrated, and easy to manage (Quantum Spark Appliances)
  • Innovative email and collaboration application protection (Harmony email & collaboration – Harmony Email & Collabration)
  • Endpoint and mobile protection for PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS with automated incident response (Harmony EndPoint & Harmony Mobile)

In addition, Check Point Software Technologies has now extended its Cloud Security Offering with a Developer-First Security Platform. With the acquisition of Spectral, an innovator in automated code security, Check Point CloudGuard, which provides consolidated security and threat prevention across all cloud environments, assets, and workloads will deliver the industry’s most comprehensive security platform from code to cloud.

Is there any channel expansion plan in terms of numbers in 2023? 

Whilst we are eager to expand our channel community, our expansion strategy will focus on the following vectors:

  • Onboarding of new partners for our SMB go to market strategy, to expand our reach in the country
  • Working with systems integrators to help them set up / expand their cyber security practise
  • Onboarding of partner in new route to market areas such as MSSP, MSP & Telcos
  • Working with our existing / focused partners to help them build further expertise around implementation & Day 2 support, so that they can serve their customers better
  • Onboarding niche partners, especially in our growth technology areas such as Cloud Security (Check Point CloudGuard) & Secure Users & Access (Check Point Harmony)

In our growth journey, our channel partner relationships have been crucial. We have more than two dozen tools to assist our channel partners, some of which are aimed at partners to use with their customers such as assessments and security check-ups, while other tools such as dashboards and quarterly business reviews are intended for the solution providers themselves to enable Check Point in India to become one of the most relevant and preferred cybersecurity solutions providers. We are continuing to make strides in creating and executing the best partner experience in the areas of predictability, profitability, and ease of doing business.

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