Opinion: Security - how the channel can play an educational role

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Opinion: Security - how the channel can play an educational role

'The Web is evolving rapidly with new sites and business tools expanding the way companies interact and do business each day.

Hosted software, document converters and currency translators sit alongside well-established Web 2.0 tools such as Instant Messenger, Salesforce.com and Google Documents.  

Web 2.0 is helping cut costs with collaboration platforms, crowd sourcing, cloud computing and mashups to name but a few.

Tools like these enable companies to do the job at a lower cost and effort, which in today's economic climate can be critical.  

The demand for Web 2.0 is clear, and it's coming from all directions. Websense recently surveyed IT managers across the world and revealed that 57 percent believe Web 2.0 is necessary to their business.

In fact, 70 percent already allow their staff access to email services such as Hotmail and Gmail as well as access to user generated content such as Wikis.

Services such as these are only the tip of the Web 2.0 iceberg. 86 percent of IT managers reported feeling pressured to allow further access to more types of Web 2.0 sites and technologies.

This isn't surprising; nowadays employees and especially younger staff members expect to be able to communicate via multiple channels and use Web 2.0 tools as part of their everyday lives.

However, while business users migrate towards Web 2.0 tools in order to capitalise on their powerful capabilities, are users aware of the security risks involved and is the company sufficiently equipped to deal with them?

The answer is likely to be 'NO', and yet with good advice and the right information it is so easy to turn this into a resounding 'YES'.

Security technology has moved on in leaps and bounds but low awareness of the benefits of real-time capabilities and reliance on legacy systems is still commonplace. This is where the channel can add real value.

With an increasing need to say 'yes' to business enhancing Web 2.0 technologies, IT managers are looking for guidance from security experts in the channel.

The first question to ask is how does the customer view security? Is it the old fashioned key that locks the prison door - preventing people from doing things, or is security an essential business enabler- allowing customers to access the right sites with the right level of security?

If it's the second answer you're already on the right track. By shifting customer perception to the reality of security as a business enabler, the security landscape changes, and the real challenge can be addressed: how to safely embrace Web 2.0?  

Does your customer know about the link between email and Web to form blended security threats?

Do they know that a good deal of Web content is so dynamic that it flies under the radar of legacy security systems? Does your customer know malware can appear on trusted sites with good reputations just as easily as on other sites?

Are you sufficiently equipped to offer the latest security advice on such matters?

At the end of the day, users simply want to be able to click on a Web link or open an instant messenger window safe in the knowledge that they can securely use these tools.

By positioning yourselves as experts, the channel can educate customers so that they can allow their staff to confidently access the range of Web 2.0 technologies available today.

By offering awareness, consulting, and the potential to drive down costs with managed services or hosted solutions, the channel can provide real value.

With a clear understanding of both the business benefits of the Web 2.0 world and the evolving threat landscape, the channel can make a real difference.'

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