Sophos channel chief Jon Fox on the risks and rewards of cybersecurity

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This article appeared in the August 2017 issue of CRN magazine.

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Sophos channel chief Jon Fox on the risks and rewards of cybersecurity

After more than a decade working in the distribution business, Jon Fox joined security vendor Sophos last year.

I was in distribution for 12 years here and in the UK. I think the pace of distribution is very fast and varied in terms of the certain roles I did. I covered a lot of vendors, so it was very different day-to-day, which had its challenges but was quite rewarding as well. 

Moving across to the vendor side is obviously a lot more focused on just one vendor. It gives you more time to plan, and gives me more time to spend with partners to understand what they want so we can try to reflect that in our partner program.

Rising risks
No-one wants to see anyone get hacked or attacked, but we have seen the conversation with a lot of our partners change over the last three to six months. We do a lot of webinars and enablement and we usually get a reasonable amount of attendees, but in the last three to six months, webinars around ransomware have just shot through the roof. 

There’s a lot of noise out there and a lot of people that want education. It’s not just for selling products, it’s trying to educate the channel customers on what to do and not to do. 

You always want the partner to sell everything. One of the key messages that we have from a product standpoint is around synchronised security. When you’ve got our firewall all the way through to the end-point, all of our products talk together, so ultimately it is that synchronised security story that we want to put out to market.

We do have some partners that sell the full portfolio so that for me is the utopia. That said, do we work with partners that sell competitive brands in certain areas of our portfolio? Of course we do, but I’d always rather work with a partner on something rather than nothing.

Partners do need to de-risk the business, if that means they work with other vendors on certain things, then I’m OK with that.

As long as we’re clear on what we’re working on together and partners invest in their side on capabilities in our products, we’ll invest on their side and support them.

Phish Threat
We’ve got a product call Phish Threat, which is effectively phishing emails-as-a-service. It’s more around the training of an individual. When you get a phishing email, people still click on them. What we have is a product that mimics a phishing email. 

If a person clicks on it, the manager will get a report and they’ll get training around what they should have done. That’s starting to get a lot of traction and it’s a really good conversation starter. I think a lot of businesses are not just looking now at a product to stop hacks, they’re looking at internal training to educate their people to avoid it in the first place.

Sophos is known traditionally as an antivirus end-point vendor, so I think brand awareness around our network products is key. The challenge for us is getting that message out there and really getting the partners to understand our synchronised security message, rather than a single product in our portfolio.  

June 2016 – present  Channel director, Sophos

July 2014 – June 2016  General manager – advanced solutions group, Ingram Micro

Aug 2012 – Aug 2014  Senior business manager, enterprise hardware, Ingram Micro

2011 – 2012  Sales manager, Ingram Micro

2009 – 2011  IBM, APC & secured networks business manager, Ingram Micro

2006 – 2009  IBM System x business manager, DNS Arrow

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