Business & Technology

Perspectives on Securing Digital Transformation Across Canada

Fortinet recently sat down digitally with three senior members of our team in Canada who work daily with customers and partners - Avi Posesorsky, Rafi Wanounou, and Gordon Phillips. We wanted to learn more about what they are hearing from customers and what is top of mind across Canada for cybersecurity today. Organizations in Canada, like most other countries, face a growing cybersecurity skills gap, a growing digital attack surface, and a threat landscape that evolves by the second.

Therefore, cybersecurity remains top of mind, especially given the current landscape and urgency to maintain business continuity as well as scale secure remote work. Read their conversation below:

Q: What is the one thing that makes Fortinet Canada different?

Avi Posesorsky - Presence and our people: Our clients are our priority and we work as hard as we can to address their enterprise security needs. Our staff of security experts are by far some of the best in the industry. They are all highly-trained, so they’re equipped to provide real-world expertise to our customers to keep them secure. And when it comes to technology, we focus on providing a security solution that will enable broad visibility, automation, and orchestration to help them maintain and enhance their security posture and strategy.

Rafi Wanounou - We also understand the paradigm shift that digital transformation has created. The network boundaries have been pushed to the cloud, there are more remote datacenters, people are working from their homes, etc. To address these challenges, we have invested in hardware and software that allows the network to exist securely anywhere. No other vendor has invested in the kind of solution needed to accelerate critical DX functions such those found in our Fortinet Secure SD-WAN solution.

Gordon Phillips – Most importantly, Fortinet has invested in Canada, which is great for our clients. We have a development team as well as the FortiGuard Labs threat research team with significant presence in Canada, along with a large customer facing sales team, which means our customers get a direct touch, and can leverage the knowledge and experience of our pre-sales technical team as well. This investment is not just about Fortinet—but for the benefit of our customers and partners too.

Q: What are some of the major infosec trends affecting Canadian organizations?

Avi Posesorsky – The biggest is getting a handle on the prioritization of cybersecurity. 2019 was a very lucrative year for cyber attackers, and we still come across organizations that don’t take cybersecurity seriously enough to implement a security solution designed to protect their entire network infrastructure. With so much visibility about breaches, I'm sometimes shocked to hear executives say, “it’s not important, it’s not a priority, and I don’t have the budget.” Organizations of all sizes need to prioritize security and start thinking about the data privacy of their clients, customers and employees.

Gordon Phillips – Along those lines, ransomware is very concerning to everyone, especially as the threat landscape continues to evolve. Cyber attacks can be expensive to remediate and embarrassing for a company regardless of the damage. Customers want to be protected from these kinds of attacks to make sure they don’t impact business continuity. Since there is no perimeter, organizations need protection everywhere. The network is diverse and dynamic.

Automation, AI, and Machine Learning are being looked at to enable networks to act faster, as well as help reduce the false positives and noise that security and network tools can create. There is a lot of talk about not having enough security professionals due to the global shortage. That means customers need better tools to manage and simplify their complex security landscape. We are definitely seeing customers looking at reducing their vendor overhead to a few that can do more, and then developing deep partnerships between their organizations.

Q: What is one takeaway from the recent shifts in business continuity needs, and what have you learned from working with Canadian customers?

Avi Posesorsky – The first and biggest issue is to understand what security risks are present in a network and how to respond. Then we can focus on building a better security system.

Rafi Wanounou - Digital Transformation initiatives in the enterprise have created a very rich user experience for end users. This rich experience has enabled huge productivity gains; but these have come with a cost – creating and securing the end user experience outside of the enterprise network fence is a challenge because workers now require dedicated hardware and high-speed bandwidth to do their jobs remotely in a secure fashion.

This requires corporate IT to procure, maintain, and manage potentially thousands of remote devices and users. This becomes even a bigger challenge during a business continuity event when time to deliver is compressed. Enterprises of all sizes are also investing heavily in SD-WAN and edge security devices as part of business continuity planning – something that only a few years ago was not even a component of BCP.

Q: Digital transformation remains a priority. So, where are your customers on this trajectory? Where is security in that conversation?

Avi Posesorsky - Many Canadian organizations are evaluating emerging technologies like machine learning, big data, and other AI-driven processes to transform the way they do business. The biggest challenges they currently face are limited budgets, evolving budget priorities, available resources, and the cybersecurity skills gap.

These problems are especially common among small businesses, who are less likely to have the funds available for large-scale digital migration or the time and money for staff training. At the same time, organizations are embedding technology into all facets of their business operations. But a connected environment introduces new and complex risk challenges, so while cyberattack risk may be top of mind for many, there are also risks that are introduced with digital transformation. Organizations need to secure and protect it all.

Gordon Phillips - This is really interesting. We see the need for cross-team collaboration more than ever, where network and security teams are often becoming a single unit. Their profile has risen because we are seeing such damaging reputation breaches happen in the health, government, and financial industries – making them all prominent targets. Security is part of every conversation, and the challenge is that people don't know what they don't know. It's important to have a close relationship with your vendors so you can talk about your business goals and how to secure them.

Q: The skills gap in Canada is growing everywhere, so what opportunities do organizations see to close it? 

Avi Posesorsky - In Canada, the skills gap exists at varying levels of severity for different sectors, but it is especially pronounced in the technological sectors. Within the labor market, the skills gap is more common among SMEs. An opportunity to close the skills gap would be to encourage all employees to take the something like Fortinet’s Network Security Expert (NSE) training or security awareness courses to increase staff productivity and build consolidated solutions to cut down risks. 

Find out more about Fortinet’s NSE Institute programs, including the Network Security Expert programNetwork Security Academy program and FortiVet program, which provide critical cybersecurity training and education to help solve the cyber skills gap and prepare the cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow.

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