The Federal Government has slapped security on the frontline of IT agendas with its announcement of a new cyber security centre in Canberra and an additional $1.46 billion in funding for cyber security as part of a new national security blueprint.
The move, boosting Australia's ability to protect against cyber-attacks, is part of the Strong and Secure: A Strategy for Australia's National Security plan, which named cyber security as one of three key areas of focus for Australian defence, intelligence agencies and law enforcement over the next five years.
Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said cyber security incidents had increased 42 per cent over the past two years and the government will concentrate on the issue as part of the NBN rollout. The plan will be updated every five years.
The move was welcomed by the channel which underscored both growing opportunity within the security sector and its ongoing importance in the age of mobility, big data, BYOD and any number of data sensitive developments.
ASI Solutions director, Maree Lowe, said the government should embark on a massive education of businesses and individuals following the announcement of the policy.
"I don't think people have the big picture on why the government is focusing on cybercrime. Government needs to have a big push in educating on the implications of the future. The next thing following that is addressing budget issues."
Websense regional sales manager, Gerry Tucker, claimed the policy further stressed the importance of cyber security at a board and executive level.
He said as security continues to be the primary focus for organisations, it provides an opportunity for the channel to move into consultancy, integration, or service and implementation.
According to Tucker, end-users are beginning to see security solutions as a process buy instead of just a technology buy.
"End-users are not just looking for a piece of technology; they are looking for a security solution that integrates into all elements of their business. It is about working with partners and system integration houses that can take the technology into that broader and more complete solution."
Tucker advised resellers, who have yet to enter the security space, to partner with other businesses that have established a place within the security space if they do not intend on going into it by themselves.
These businesses, which have established themselves within security, will be able to plan out the most appropriate technologies for the resellers and ensure that they can provide sales, technical training, and services.
"There is definitely going to be more money spent in this area and it is going to be seen as a competitive differentiator from a channel perspective," he said.
Lan 1 security product manager, Anand Joseph, claimed with security coming to the forefront of the government's agenda, it may attract a bigger share of the IT budget, providing an opportunity for resellers to offer consulting and security measures.
"Investing in appropriate resources, training and alignment with security vendors would provide the bases for a security initiative," he said.
Joseph said the company is noticing an increase in severity, frequency, and sophistication of cyber-attacks against all types of organisations in Australia.
He highlighted the recent spate of security breaches that affected many organisations across the country.
"This emphasises the importance of risk management for all organisations and sets a mandate on security for government. It also indicates closer collaboration between government agencies for smarter defence."
McAfee Asia-Pacific channels and alliances senior director, Craig Nielsen, said the Bring Your Own Application (BYOA) phenomenon is another issue that businesses will need to assess and prepare for.
"With BYOD comes BYOA and with so many employees downloading apps within the organisation, IT admins are losing control. All of a sudden everyone is their own system administrator," he said.
Nielsen said if a reseller is looking to move into the security space, they should consider which vendor will provide them with the quickest time to value. "Resellers should consider how quickly and effectively the vendor can provide technical and sales enablement. They should also consider the breadth of the vendor's portfolio and the number of security use cases they are able to sell into. Lastly, they should choose a vendor that enhances profitability with a comprehensive profitability program."
IDC Australia senior market analyst, Vern Hue, said most organisations have begun to realise the need to invest in improving their security posture as there is a lot of intellectual property to be lost.
According to Hue, the channel plays a huge role in ensuring cyber security is elevated to the highest order of strategic and security priorities. He suggested the channel should operate as a trusted advisor to organisations by providing baseline education on security posture.
"The channel should better equip themselves with the latest technology and begin to evolve to provide services. This would allow the channel to cross and up sell solutions as organisations move up the technology chain," he said.
Lowe agreed with Tucker, Joseph, and Nielsen, adding that businesses should also keep up with technologies even if they have partnered with a company in the security space.
"IT managers and CIOs have to start looking at new players in the market and assess the benefits the new players are bringing."
Lowe suggested resellers should look into the education space vertical. With mobility and mobile devices on the rise in schools, Lowe said it is creating security risks.
"Going into a paperless society, it is a massive area for the channel to work in. There is going to be enormous demand for industry consultancy, audits, and infrastructure changes to support the environment -- we will see more partnering between different groups," she said. WhiteGold Solutions managing director, Dominic Whitehand, said opportunities for the channel within security lay in the Cloud space: "They should look into Cloud security either as a pure-play Cloud service or a hybrid with existing on-premise solutions, advanced malware protection, data backup and disaster recovery, next generation firewall and next generation intrusion prevention, data forensics and more."
Whitehand claimed that the NBN rollout will further drive cyber-security.
"Increased connection speeds mean access to higher level services in the Cloud, so many Cloud based security solutions become more viable. The very nature of the NBN rollout has meant that more infrastructure has been, and still is being, implemented, which all needs protecting," he said.