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One man’s disaster

01 Mar 12

Cyber-terrorism, hacking, malware and foreign espionage – for Check Point Software Technologies, they’re the key to a profitable business.
The Israeli company is the world’s second largest security software company and has, according to Scott McKinnel, Check Point Software Technologies regional director, clocked up an average 30% topline growth in Australia and New Zealand in recent years. New Zealand now accounts for 10% of the ANZ business, though the company doesn’t disclose specific figures.
Despite the growth McKinnel says New Zealand still has huge potential for the company, which plans to put increasing focus on this market – and Perth – in the coming year. "We can not afford to have two significant growth markets dry up,” McKinnel says of New Zealand and Perth.
He says many Kiwi companies still have a ‘very strong’ attitude of ‘it will never happen here’ when it comes to cyber-terrorism and foreign espionage, while smaller businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect themselves against an increasing barrage of threats.
"There haven’t been any headline cases here and there’s a rational as to why anyone would do anything like that,” he says. "But customers need to understand where they sit on the global stage and be aware of the trends within their industry. They need to do a risk analysis and while the risk is probably low, they need to take into account what it would cost if it did happen.”
He says companies need to be aware that just as attacks are evolving, the motivation for attacks has also changed.
"It used to be primarily for financial gain. Now, while financial gain is one of the motivations, there’s also hacktivision. It used to be that hacking was fairly innocuous. But groups are now targeting large organisations to embarrass and compromise.”
Offshore attacks
Meanwhile, foreign espionage, while not as ‘hot’ an issue in New Zealand as it is in Australia, is nonetheless an increasing threat. "It’s keeping some sectors, like finance and resources, awake at night.
 "But that’s not to say it’s not happening elsewhere. You only need to look at the geopolitical tensions landscape to see where it’s possible. There is a food shortage, and at the moment it’s in grains and wheat, but it will be around protein soon,” he says, alluding to Fonterra’s position in the market.
He says while telco, banking, finance and critical infrastructure sectors are ‘fairly aware’, the increasing move to cloud computing means other sectors will also become ‘rich targets’.
"When I’ve spoken about this at chamber of commerce meetings, people roll their eyes. But if there are people out there competing with you, you are a target. There are people out there scoping and if you have poor protection...”
Mid-market, major opportunity
McKinnel says while Check Point ‘bats above our weight in terms of presence and market share across sectors including banks, telcos and government, an area we do not do so well in is the mid-market or SMB’.
With that in mind, McKinnel says the company will be spending more time with its Kiwi channel partners to understand their businesses better and help them work with mid-market customers to make them more aware of the issues.
The company, which has three staff locally and long-lines additional support from Australia, is also looking at potentially adding one more Kiwi staffer this year, as well as ‘significantly’ increasing long-lining resources. 

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