Spokesperson: Daniel Parks, Sales Director, Avast
What are some of the major trends you see in the security market?
Currently, we are seeing advancements made in terms of how malware is delivered to PCs, including more sophisticated methods of spreading threats via malicious emails. Last year, the banking trojan Emotet, which has been around since 2014, began spreading using a new technique. In addition to spreading via malspam, Emotet began scanning victims’ email inboxes and replying to emails, including malicious attachments, and thus infecting further users.
Also, malware can be spread through a resurgence of exploit kits. In 2019, we saw an increase in router exploit kits, mainly targeting Brazilians, but also local U.S. and Canadian Internet Service Providers. We expect to see an increase in the amount and sophistication of exploit kits, targeting PCs and routers in 2020.
There will also be supply chain attacks as APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) groups are attempting to infiltrate software companies with massive user bases to inject malicious code into genuine products. The motivation behind supply chain attacks often differs. We have observed cases where just a fraction of the affected user base is the actual target of a supply chain attack. This was the case in the CCleaner attack in 2017, and in the ASUS supply chain attack in 2018. There were also cases where the motivation behind supply chain attacks is mass destruction, like with the NotPetya attack. Cybercriminals spread the NotPetya ransomware, more precisely wiper, by compromising Ukrainian account software, M.E.Doc.
Finally, we expect to see attacks by abusing the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Cybercriminals either abuse weakly configured servers with RDP, or exploiting RDP vulnerabilities. The majority of delivered malicious payloads will probably still be ransomware, but we expect a rise in distribution of coin-miners and password stealers. We also expect to see the spread of worm-like strains similar to WannaCry.
In terms of Internet of Things devices, we predict devices and even physical locations will become smart or even smarter than they already are. We have already started to see cybercriminals taking steps to further develop IoT malware, including adding obfuscation to make it more difficult for analysts to analyze, and building upon exploit kits for smart devices.
There are many steps businesses can take to protect themselves from hackers. Businesses should make sure they have multiple layers of defense, including antivirus, firewall, intrusion detection, and they should update their firmware and software on a regular basis, and implement proper usage access rights for their employees.
Which verticals are likely to invest in security for 2020 aggressively?
We see an increased interest in keeping data and employees safe across the board in the SMB market. More than ever before, SMBs understand the potential cost of an attack (reputation, ransom, or having to cease operations), and therefore are willing to spend more time and resources to ensure that they have appropriate security measures in place to keep their businesses safe. However, many SMBs lack the knowledge and expertise and therefore require assistance from IT service providers that can recommend the right solution, as well as manage IT for the SMBs.
How channel is revved for embracing security technologies from a business standpoint?
While cyberattacks are becoming more common and increasingly sophisticated which can pose a challenge for IT service providers it also represents a huge opportunity. This gives IT service providers an opportunity to expand their portfolio (and generate new revenue streams for their business) and at the same time be seen as not just a service provider, but a trusted advisor to an SMB which encourages stronger loyalty and customer retention.
To help IT service providers embark on this journey, Avast Business has created cloud-based, easy to manage solutions that:
- Provide superior protection to their SMB customers
- Enable cost & resource efficiency
- Give you access to award winning security portfolio
What products and solutions are you offering for the channel market? Are you also offering any security services which the channel partners should invest in? Which major security technologies should channel partners invest in 2020?
We provide the tools and platforms for the channel to do their critical work. We help channel partners protect networks and devices against threats, protect their business customer’s data, and protect their people when they go online. We see significant shifts/changes in the market today that impact the channel. We see a real opportunity for channel partners to evolve beyond IT solution providers to trusted security advisors. This has influenced the development of our Avast Business product and services portfolio.
Our product portfolio includes Avast Management Console, a cloud-based console that enables companies to easily deploy antivirus protection to multiple devices and manage all devices via one dashboard. Apart from saving bandwidth, it features a user-friendly interface which suits even the less technically experienced Other integrated services include our new Antivirus Pro Plus protection, Patch Management tool, network management, backup, monitoring and alerting, reporting, and more.
Our Avast Business CloudCare on the other hand, enables IT service providers to remotely support their clients and deploy a robust portfolio of subscription-based cloud security solutions through a cloud-based administration platform. Advanced remote control capabilities, provided without additional cost, enable administrators to support remote login of any devices under management. IT service providers gain a simple way to implement and manage services such as antivirus, content filtering, online backup, and email security services.
We offer a global channel partner program that provides resources, training and rewards to enable profitable growth for our partners. Last year, we launched the new Avast Business Partner Certification Program. The program features three tiers of certification with increasing benefits. It’s tailored to the needs of our partners who can select a managed services or point solutions track based on the nature of their business. The program delivers the essential skills and knowledge to effectively secure clients’ IT environments. In addition, we offer partners quarterly webinar sessions on business security market trends, along with the latest updates on the Avast Business solutions and promotions. In order to support partners execute lead generation campaigns to their customer base, we provide easy to use marketing campaigns in a box. The kit provides all components needed to run a lead generation campaign in just three simple steps.
How is AI changing the security landscape?
AI and machine-learning-based technology will play a huge role in the future, not just in how it is used to provide protection, but also the way we interact with technology at all levels. Even though AI is already being used today, there is a lot of room to improve it, and it will affect all technologies. For AI to work properly, immense amounts of data will be needed. For years Avast has been using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to protect our 400 million users worldwide from threats. Our 400 million users provide us with a threat detection network of over 400 million endpoints – the largest in the industry – which generates vast quantities of data we feed our machines, so they are constantly learning about new threats that help us to protect our customer base from challenging cyber-attacks.
The reality is that today’s threats develop far too quickly for humans to respond to. But it does not mean humans are no longer needed. AI has a major role to play in cybersecurity moving forwards, but it cannot work independently from cybersecurity professionals. For example, machines will always receive the distinction for rapid classification of malware at scale, but humans will win the award for deep malware analysis thanks to our ability to see issues in a wider context. The man-machine collaboration is what creates a more secure and efficient system. And this is Avast’s approach to AI integration – one we consider really important as malware variants grow in volume and sophistication. If AI can be responsible for detecting and blocking malware en masse, researchers can allocate more time to the study of more complex and evasive threats which can then be fed into the AI machine.
What is your drive to make the partners aware of new attacks and solutions available from you?
Cybercriminals are constantly working on developing new cyber attacks, and threats are continuously evolving. It’s our mission to protect small and medium sized businesses from new attacks, and therefore we are constantly in touch with our partners to inform them about new cyber risks, and solutions that address them.
What is your overall marketing and sales strategy for 2020?
In 2020 we would like to focus on putting our customers (and in our case channel partners) first by helping them to deliver comprehensive security solutions to their SMB customers. We are continuously working on improving and expanding our portfolio to ensure that it delivers best in class, yet simple security that promotes:
- Time & resource efficiency
- Ease of use & management
- Lower TCO & healthy margins
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