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The strategic pivot to security continues to pay off for Advantage as a combination of increased threats and an ongoing skills shortage places managed security service providers (MSSPs) in hot demand across New Zealand.
In looking back on the fourth and final quarter of 2021, there was a record $6.6 million lost in online financial crime in New Zealand.
According to Cert NZ findings, this included a 28 per cent increase in phishing and credential harvesting, and represents a very real threat to Kiwi organisations as employees continue to work remotely and operate outside of the business “perimeter.”
Yet the situation is showing no signs of improvement with NCSC-NZ also advising local companies to “review their security posture and monitor for cyber incidents,” in light of global events, including the attack on Ukraine by Russia.
For Advantage -- a Palmerston North-based MSSP -- such data vindicates a company transition to focus on security solutions and services.
“Security has been a key focus for us in the last four years and we have cemented ourselves as a market leader in this space,” said Brad Pearpoint, managing director of Advantage. “Whilst we have significant growth planned in all areas of our business, security plays a part in all areas. We are seeing a constant growth in the cloud journey, of which security is a priority.”
As a result, Advantage is aiming to capitalise on the “significant development work” invested during the past 12 months following a wide-ranging exercise which resulted in the creation of new products and services offerings, supported by enhanced delivery workflows and additional staff resources.
“We are excited to take these new capabilities to the market and grow our customer base,” Pearpoint added. “We have also been on a journey to comply with ISO 27002 standards which we are in the final process.”
Changing security landscape
As the way businesses operate changes -- with mobile and remote work becoming more critical than ever -- the nature of security solutions that Kiwi organisations must adopt in the months ahead must also evolve in tandem, observed Pearpoint.
“Technology that enables flexible working environments in a secure manner such as security service edge, endpoint protection and micro segmentation, are all hot topics with customers at the moment,” he said.
As reported by Reseller News, businesses spent more than $727 million on enterprise-grade information security and risk management products and services across New Zealand in 2021.
That is according to Gartner, which claimed spending in the market increased by 8.1 per cent, year-on-year -- higher than 6.6 per cent in 2020. Within this context, security services represented the segment with the highest value by reaching $438 million of investment and representing year-on-year growth of 6.4 per cent.
Despite such strong demand, capitalising on such potential in the current climate isn’t so simple for an MSSP grappling with an ongoing talent crisis in New Zealand.
Specifically, the Kiwi market faces a severe shortage of cyber security skills, with 66 per cent -- two-thirds -- of companies reporting that current security teams are understaffed -- compared to 55 per cent globally. What’s more, travel and skilled migration to the country remains difficult, and while the government has made bringing new IT skills to the country a priority, the intake of new talent will not end the shortage.
“Access to talent is our biggest issue by far,” Pearpoint acknowledged. “Followed closely by COVID-19 interrupting face-to-face contact with our partners at events and our regular education sessions.”
Despite this, the lack of skills and awareness is also an opportunity for Advantage to operate as a trusted advisor and assume outsourcing ownership, Pearpoint added.
“Advantage has managed to position itself as a leader in the security space, which puts us in a great position to assist New Zealand, Australia and Pacific Island businesses as they deal with the ever-growing security risks, lack of resources and inhouse experience,” he stated.
In assessing the ongoing disruption impacting enterprise and mid-market customers -- such as the pandemic, supply chain and skills -- Pearpoint recognised that uncertainty will remain the order of the day in the foreseeable future.
But rather than looking to hire into the company, customers are expected to turn to MSSPs as a way of saving costs while enabling access to such critical IT solutions.
“This is a significant opportunity in the year ahead,” Pearpoint said. “COVID-19 still presents real concerns around business stability which is translating into restricted budgets and resources, whilst at the same time they are moving towards flexible working arrangements. These drivers need to be weighed carefully with the security risks created for the organisations and their customers.”
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