Tim Sheahen is North American channel sales manager at Webroot Inc., with U.S. headquarters in Broomfield, Colo. He spoke recently with Michael Siggins, publisher of ChannelPro-SMB, about threats and opportunities in cybersecurity. This is an edited excerpt of that conversation.
ChannelPro-SMB: Can you give me some perspective on the state of cybersecurity and the opportunities for your channel partners.
Tim Sheahen: The breaches that we've been seeing have obviously been some major, major companies, but what we're seeing as far as some of the trends go is that these breaches are happening at smaller organizations now, so you're getting down to the midsize, to the SMB level. These breaches are starting to be a concern now for the small guys as much as they are for the big guys. That gives an opportunity for service providers who specialize in protecting the smaller and medium enterprises.
ChannelPro-SMB: How do you best prepare your partners to communicate that the threats are very real to everybody out there and counsel them to make that a solid part of the solution they offer their customers?
Sheahen: Well, unfortunately, the bad guys are making that very easy for us because there's things like encrypting ransomware, which is directly in your face as far as any of the small guys go, and it's taking hold of their files that are near and dear to them and and hold[ing] them for ransom. This is a real problem, not just for the big guys anymore—it's anybody, even the home user.
ChannelPro-SMB: What guidance do you give partners for making a security play as part of a holistic offering for their customers?
Sheahen: Endpoint security is must-have so we let our customers know that one of the easiest ways to have a conversation with a prospective customer is to lead with endpoint security. This is now an entry point for them to talk about things like backup as well to offer other solutions that they provide for the customers.
ChannelPro-SMB: Are there any trends that you're seeing that have surprised you?
Sheahen: The volume [of threats] for sure was one of the biggest things that we're seeing today. There's close to a half a million new variances that are being released on a daily basis and so this is huge growth, exponential growth year over year. The technologies that haven't changed in 20, 25 years can't keep up with writing signatures for the amount of threats. So it's the pure volume that we're seeing is probably the biggest problem out there because zero-day threats are now becoming the norm.
We weren't caught off [guard] by it. We actually saw this coming. We changed our technologies over five years ago because we knew the storm was coming and so built a much more proactive solution to be able take on just the volume itself; that's been the biggest problem.
ChannelPro-SMB: Have the users learned anything in all these years, or are they still the gateway of threat opportunities?
Sheahen: Yeah, and that's unfortunately not going to change any time soon. Obviously, the bad guys are using social engineering techniques to get on the boxes in the first place, and there's always going to be that person [who’s] going to click on that thing that they shouldn't, and that's not going to go away for some time. But as a whole and in the security industry we have to do a better job of educating the end users and the businesses alike.
ChannelPro-SMB: What is the biggest advantage to your partners for using Webroot?
Sheahen: It's quite a few advantages actually. We have a very lightweight client. We do our endpoint security quite a bit different than anybody else does, so it gives us some major advantages. Our client is only about [a] half a meg install. It scanned in about two to three minutes so it’s not intrusive on the client whatsoever, but it's much more proactive protection. So we talked about that sheer volume of threats, [it’s] a behavioral-based endpoint security solution that has the ability to identify bad behaviors and block accordingly.
We [also] have tools in place for our partners. We have an multiple-tenant admin console that's specifically built for MSPs. We're more geared up to be able to face the zero-day threats than anybody else out there, just because of the way our technology works.
We're building our solutions for our partners and we're taking the advice that our partners are giving us to build a better solution. So there's a lot more stuff to come, especially geared up for the partner community.