If this article was written 10 years ago, it would have been dramatically different. Back in 2012, there were few office equipment dealers (OEDs) offering services other than managed print, and cybersecurity was a much smaller and relatively niche business line. Back then, security meant having a capable firewall, an antivirus solution, and maybe a hardware token (if you were serious about unauthorized access). Email encryption might have been on the table, and employees would be swapping out passwords every 90 days or so.
Of course, most office equipment dealers didn’t manage cybersecurity for their customers back then, either; cybersecurity was relegated to in-house IT teams, a designated “computer whiz” whose primary job was something else entirely, or simply just ignored because it wasn’t a priority for their business.
How times have changed.
In 2022, your role as the OED has expanded dramatically. Not only are you renewing leases, selling managed print contracts, and scheduling maintenance calls, but you’re also a larger part of your customers’ networks than ever before. With the advent of SaaS-based cloud services and the dominance of recurring revenue models for managed services, the dealer of 2022 may also provide anything from limited network security services to complete IT management.
Chances are you are thinking of offering more cybersecurity services in the future than you already do. With that in mind, let’s look at what it means to secure the modern office in 2022.
The landscape of the modern office
The events of the early 2020s changed the nature of office work dramatically, and it’s clear that at least some of these changes are here to stay. More people are working from home than ever, and despite return-to-office (RTO) initiatives having some success, many employees that once would have filled aisles upon aisles of cubicles are now accessing their employers’ networks at home, at cafés, at parks, and more.
What was once a more gradual transition into offsite network access via the advent of smartphones, tablet adoption, and a relatively small remote worker force erupted into a full-blown revolution in how corporate networks are accessed in only a matter of weeks. It would take time before businesses caught up with the appropriate security strategy — if it happened at all.
Despite the tumult of the past few years, cybersecurity vendors were well prepared to handle this rapid transformation of the modern office, having multiple solutions available to meet the needs of businesses of all kinds. However, some vendors were able to align their solutions into integrated, unified platforms more easily, based on their architecture and strategy. These purpose-built, unified platforms are currently leading the market, and are a much better match for the go-to-market strategy of a typical OED, which requires rapid deployment, simplified management, and flexible billing options.
Today, cybersecurity has never been more necessary for all businesses. Due to the ever-increasing number of attacks and the ease with which bad actors can infiltrate poorly secured networks, cybersecurity demand is at an all-time high in all business verticals. These conditions present an ideal opportunity for OEMs to start a cybersecurity practice. However, securing a network looks much different in 2022 than it did just a few years ago. Where on-premises network security, traditional endpoint security, and a mobile device management solution may have been enough a few years ago, the challenges of a hybrid office require more advanced solutions.
Let’s have a look at them.
Network security is far more than physical firewalls these days. Now, firewall appliances, cloud firewalls, and virtual firewalls all have their place in modern network security, bolstered by necessary services like SD-WAN, which includes multiple wide-area network links, dynamic traffic distribution, VPNs, and more; as well as remote access points, HTTPS inspection and more.
These services, in combination with firewalls and an array of automated features, are the bedrock of modern office security, allowing for secure access to cloud applications, high-quality VoIP, video utilization and more to create a secure connection to the network wherever employees may be. Further, modern network security solutions allow security professionals a level of visibility into the network that was unprecedented a short while ago. If your customers are using older solutions or are having trouble adapting to the new hybrid office model, this may be your opportunity o step in and offer an alternative.
The modern office has more attack surfaces than ever. In recent years everything from printers to internet-connected refrigerators has been used to gain access to corporate networks. In the world of the Internet of Things (IoT), properly securing each individual device on a manual basis can be cumbersome, if not impossible, on a day-to-day basis. A secure Wi-Fi solution, complete with future-proof Wi-Fi 6 access points with WPA3 encryption, can deliver exceptional performance in today’s device-heavy workspace while keeping all connections (and your customers’ networks) secure.
Wi-Fi 6 access points can be effective conversation starters when expanding into cybersecurity from an existing account. It can be an important part of the overall pitch when selling a unified security service.
Unfortunately, an eight-character password with a capital letter, number, and “special” character isn’t enough to keep user accounts from being compromised anymore. Today, a lack of identity security is a business’ main vulnerability, allowing for easy access to private systems and information.
Multifactor authentication (MFA) is an integral part of modern office security, with app-based authentication (especially for remote user access and VPN) protecting not just a laptop login, but also the cloud-based applications that contain sensitive corporate data. And, combined with cloud management and dark web scanning to monitor if any email addresses or domains have been compromised, MFA becomes a solution that just cannot be ignored without exposing serious gaps in a company’s security posture.
Many small and midsize businesses have yet to adopt the full capabilities of MFA, and it can present an extraordinary opportunity to set your solution apart from your competition in terms of depth, breadth, and scope.
Advanced endpoint security
Endpoint has evolved rapidly in the past decade to meet the challenge of protecting environments from the sheer volume and sophistication of new threats that are unleashed every day. Long gone are the days of merely using just a simple, signature-based app; today, endpoint security is multilayered with numerous technologies that are augmented with AI, to protect, detect, respond, and even remediate advanced threats and cyberattacks. These combine to create what’s known as a “zero-trust” environment that keeps modern offices secure by never allowing unknown apps, files, or processes to run.
With an automated, zero-trust security solution, you’ll be able to offer clients the peace of mind they need to stay focused on their business without intensive effort on yours. And, at the next QBR, you’ll be able to provide a host of information with advanced endpoint reporting as well.
One of the latest emerging fields of cybersecurity, threat hunting has risen to become an important component of a serious cybersecurity solution. Why? It’s proactive. After securing the office with strong network security, secure Wi-Fi, MFA, and advanced endpoint security solutions, a team of hunters will continuously scan customer environments for any suspicious activity and uncover any hidden attackers in the earliest stages of an attack.
Threat hunting is an extra layer of intelligence-driven, human-led security for businesses that demand the strongest of defenses, and it’s an attractive service to offer as part of your comprehensive platform. With a threat-hunting service in your portfolio, you are effectively communicating that you will leave no stone unturned to keep your customers safe, which will win trust and convert prospects.
A platform takes your security services to the next level
Many cybersecurity providers offer versions of the solutions described in the article, but few can claim that each was purpose-built to integrate closely with one another, allowing for greater efficiency, ease of use, and more powerful protection. While important from the management end, it’s ultimately important for your customers’ overall security posture. If a provider is using disparate security solutions from multiple vendors, they run the risk of threats falling through the cracks due to little integration between the solutions, if there is any integration at all. This leaves an office highly vulnerable, even if those solutions are all highly powerful on their own.
Instead, the optimal solution for OEDs to protect their customers in 2022 is to go with a highly integrated platform. This type of platform delivers comprehensive security, shared knowledge, operational alignment, automation, clarity, and control into one platform that’s simple to manage and easy to deploy. Customers will be confident that you are their trusted cybersecurity advisor and have every tool required to protect their office in 2022 and beyond.
When it comes to office security, change is often sudden and unpredictable. Be sure you’re ready for what’s next with the right platform of security solutions now and give your clients peace of mind that you’ll keep them protected no matter what comes their way.
Joseph Tavano manages channel marketing at WatchGuard Technologies, Inc., and is responsible for the channel content strategy and communications to WatchGuard’s partners worldwide. His primary focus centers on WatchGuard’s award-winning partner program, WatchGuardONE, where he drives new program adoption while helping existing partners grow their business through the various resources available to them. He brings with him years of experience in the IT channel, and he sees his role through the lens of service, helping connect hardworking partners with the solutions they need to be successful. He lives north of Boston in a quiet seaside town with his family, and thinks about the best wire choice for networking his home far too much