Mike Wood on how to protect remote businesses from cybercrime

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Mike Wood, is a CMO, at Versa, a cybersecurity company that offers secure networking solutions for enterprises and large infrastructure organisations around the world. 

We had the great opportunity to discuss with him the current global remote working situation and how employers can use their tech to enable workers to work securely and reliably from the cloud, their homes, and any premises that they need to.

Mike shares how Versa software is securing businesses around the world, what are the recent challenges he has had to face, and how Versa has protected it’s client’s businesses from cybercrime. He also talks about the benefits of implementing a more robust cybersecurity software into your businesses infrastructure.

 

How is Versa doing things differently from other companies in the market, in terms of remote working? Is there a unique process or methodology that you use?

Yes, so we’ve taken a unique approach in terms we enable our customers to access applications reliably and with high quality of experience. Those applications might be in the cloud, a lot of business are using the cloud and cloud services, applications that are located in their private data centres, or co-located data centres, or data centres that may be on-premises. So, having the best possible application experience and quality of experience, with the highest level of security and the most robust level of reliability, is incredibly important to these organisations, whether they are enterprises, commercial businesses, public sector businesses or NGO’s.

Versa has really spent the last seven-plus years, in creating this experience, this secure and reliable and high-performance experience for all these applications, no matter where a business is, or their staff may be located, they can access to their technologies. We’ve been investing in this for 7 years and the way that we are different is because we believe it’s not about secure connectivity and it’s not just about access to those applications but it’s about bringing all these things different together.

One can access the applications, with an enormously high level of security and those security capabilities can be delivered on the cloud or can be delivered on-premises, and by premises, I mean they can be delivered at home, in office, in campus locations, so that level of security is key. So, then we bring something we call SSWAN, Software Defence, Wiring and Networking which combines that with a robust level of security, and in the cloud and on-premises to enable an enormously high, quality of experience and what I mean by that is that this Zoom call, that we’re on, is an example of that.

Zoom and other collaboration tools have become of paramount importance to businesses and education and our personal lives now that ideally when we are on a zoom call or any other collaboration call, we want to be sure that the quality of that call is best as possible, the audio is pristine and the video is of high quality, those are the types of things that SDWAN from Versa enables, it enables that high-quality experience on cloud applications.

How has Versa been dealing with the increased threat surface that has resulted in remote working?

There are two models that Versa provides to businesses and organisations. To provide secure and reliable access to applications that they use and whether they are on cloud or on-premises locations.

The first model which we’ve been offering for many years, SDWAN, is a small appliance that may reside in your home. That small appliance takes the whole VERSA operating system or, VOS, and runs it on that appliance in your home. It’s the same software that runs in a large bank, running their networking and security and that bank, we’ve been able to bring that down into the home, we’ve done that for many years. It’s incredibly powerful, it brings all of these services, all the way down to your home. It’s as if you’ve brought the whole corporate network into my home, security, networking and analytics into the home, as well as being able to leverage a system of cloud gateways, which can also provide, networking and security and high quality of experience.

A couple of months ago, Versa introduced a new model that allows that super reliable, secure performance level of connectivity in the network, by enabling them to run a client, the Versa secure access client, a client that runs on your windows device, MAC, IOS, Linux and in future Android devices. What we’ve been able to do now, I as an employee I may be working from anywhere, and I might pick up my three or four devices and go visit my family. I might work from their home for a few days, I may even be working at a park, so bringing along an appliance to make sure I’ve got security and reliability is not functional. So the client allows us to extend our services all the way down to the laptop and the phone.

What that means is that the business now allows the client to leverage the Versa cloud gateways. There’s about a hundred of them around the globe, that provide these connections, for all of these end devices. Those end devices connect back to the cloud, they are authenticated using the same authentication model the business use today, then we apply security, we segment the applications that you run and we apply SDWAN treatments to approve the quality of those, maybe block access to some, or improve others. Those are the two models, Versa SDWAN and Versa Secure Access and they are both of the Versa Secure Access Surface Edge or SASSE.

What kinds of companies do you work with?

We work with many large companies, companies in the global 200, fortune 100 and the global 200 and beyond. Many large banks and financial services, Capital One is an example, Barclays is another.

Many retailers have shifted to providing services in their outlets but are also doing online services, and rely on these technologies for logistics and distribution. Manufacturing, Healthcare is a big one for us.

Many public-sector businesses around the globe and in Europe rely on Versa for these services and it’s certainly changed a lot, we’ve seen in the past, a fraction of employees spent time at home and now in its some cases 100 per cent of people are working at home.

Many CIO’s and IT teams rushed at the start to expand the services that they already had, which was often times a legacy model or an older cloud model and realised they’ve opened up security vulnerabilities as a result of that. In the rush to provide access, there were oversights and now they have realised what they’re looking for is something that looks a lot more like our Versa secure model.

What’s it like keeping up with rapid changes in cybersecurity as more people work from home due to coronavirus?

Security capabilities has been paramount for us since we started. Something we’ve integrated seamlessly into this operating system and we have a massive team, who all they do is to wake up in the morning and ask what are the threats, what are the malware, what are the phishing attacks, where is the ransomware, how do we continue to harden our solution to be able to address all of these things, it’s of importance to us.

One of the things we’ve focused on is our holistic model, so it’s not just about security, it’s never had an add on, it’s got to be an integrated part of your network. Network and security together. We’re constantly analysing threats that appear on the horizon.

Any that come to mind?

Recently, a garment was hit by a ransomware attack, a blocker, which encrypted everything, all of the backup systems I believe as it would not come back online. These are the types of things that we are constantly monitoring and looking at ahead of time in the lab. So, our feeling is that there are many things a business can do down to the end device, but it’s even more important the things we can do in the cloud, integrating connections, firewalls, secure web gateway services, depacket inspection, malware detection and more.

Things like that, so before an inbound threat comes in we could stop that back in the cloud. But even more important, if there is something outbound and we can stop and detect those things, and even more importantly, we can provide encryption, everything from your device back to your private data centre, back to the cloud services. I can provide a level of protection, almost as if you are in your private business, behind the safety of the perimeter of your office. So, these are the types of things we are significantly focused.

Have there been any other recent examples of threats you can mention?

I can’t give any specifics but we work with a lot of financial organisations. In this particular situation, a threat came about, and a few of our clients have been exposed to additional threats but businesses that run Versa were protected and had the ability to avoid this particular threat. So, if we can secure the home, we can do a better job at securing the whole organisation and businesses.

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