As the managing director of sales at Sophos India and SAARC, Sunil Sharma drives the security company’s ‘channel best’ strategy and works closely with its partners to drive growth. He joined Sophos in 2011 and was promoted as vice president for India and SAARC in November 2015.
He has over two decades of industry experience in senior roles across leading technology companies. Prior to his ongoing six-year stint at Sophos, he was the national manager for strategic alliances at McAfee. He has also worked with EMC and IRIS computers. Sunil began his career with Thakral Computers as business manager in 1996.
In an exclusive interview with ChannelWorld, he talks about the focus areas and growth agenda for Sophos India for 2019.
How will cybersecurity evolve in 2019? What according to you will be the growth areas for Sophos?
With augmented reality, automation, internet of things (IoT) and machine learning (ML) ruling 2018, the year 2019 seems all set to witness a technological revolution and growth in adoption of predictive cybersecurity technologies powered by deep learning artificial neural networks.
Related: See the Future: Sunil Sharma, Sophos
With hackers constantly on the lookout for vulnerabilities and weak entry points to attack, cybersecurity solutions will continue to see increased adoption among organizations. From a channel perspective, we continue to expand our channel penetration across tier 2 and tier 3 markets while strengthening our top tier channel presence. In 2019 too, we look forward to expanding our channel depth across the country to provide next-gen threat protection to businesses of all sizes.
What will the threat landscape of 2019 look like? What are the challenges that Sophos anticipates?
2019 will be a year filled with both challenges and opportunities. With everything moving at a rapid speed, technology is disrupting every industry sector as well as our day-to-day lives. With 2018 being the year of ransomware, we can clearly see this spill-over into 2019. The main challenge for us is getting all our partners geared up to tackle next-generation threats.
While the industry is seeing tremendous growth in managed-security providers, companies today are not just looking at a cybersecurity solutions provider to manage their security problems, but are looking for advice and counsel from experts in the security domain. For instance, when the next WannaCry happens customers will immediately turn to their partners and ask, “Did we get affected? What happens if we face a similar attack? How can we counter such an attack?” Hence, our partners need to have answers to these questions.
“Both the CSP and MSP programs provide an opportunity for partners to become holistic solution providers to their customers and help them develop the right security infrastructure to support their growing businesses."
One of the ways Sophos enables its partners is with informative and educative webinars and other informative sessions so that in turn they can service their customers better.
What are the priority areas that Sophos plans to assist channel partners with this year?
Being a channel first organization, our strong base of 2000+ channel partners is spread across major tier 1, 2 and 3 cities and towns that enable organizations of all sizes to deploy cloud enabled next-generation cybersecurity. We provide training and enablement support along with lucrative financial incentives to help our partners assist their customers as they migrate to the public cloud via our Cloud Security Provider program.
Alongside the CSP initiative, we will also focus on developing our Managed Security Providers network. Both the CSP and MSP programs provide an opportunity for partners to become holistic solution providers to their customers and help them develop the right security infrastructure to support their growing businesses. Apart from that, we will continue to work towards our ‘channel best’ and ‘channel first’ sales strategy via our multiple channels led initiatives.
What are the tech trends that channel partners should watch out for in 2019?
SophosLabs 2019 Threat report, gives insight into three key trends that will impact cybersecurity in 2019.
• Capitalist cybercriminals are turning to targeted ransomware, inspiring copycat attacks - In 2018, cybercriminals banked millions of dollars with hand-delivered, targeted ransomware attacks. Sophos experts believe the financial success of targeted ransomware like SamSam, BitPaymer, and Dharma will inspire copycat attacks in 2019.
“When the next WannaCry happens customers will immediately turn to their partners and ask, ‘Did we get affected? What happens if we face a similar attack? How can we counter such an attack?’ Hence, our partners need to have answers to these questions.”
• Cybercriminals are using readily available Windows systems administration - Mainstream attackers have evolved their techniques to use readily available IT tools as their route to advance through a system and complete their mission – whether it’s to steal sensitive information off the server or drop ransomware.
• Mobile and IoT malware is not slowing down - With illegal Android apps on the increase, 2018 has seen an increased focus in malware being pushed to phones, tablets, and other IoT devices. Attackers are finding novel ways to evade detection by Google and get malicious apps published on the Play Market and much more.
As cyber-attacks today are both constant and changing, many organizations still don’t understand what technologies are needed to protect against exploits and ransomware. These organizations will rely on channel partners to recommend the best protection against these ongoing and sophisticated attacks.
If there is one key message Sophos has for partners for 2019, what will it be?
Managed security providers will be in demand as the attack surfaces increase with the number of businesses. Partners need to seize this opportunity and specialize in cybersecurity to better protect businesses of all sizes.