Symantec has been shortlisted for the Best Enterprise Security Product at the V3 Technology Awards 2015 for its Data Loss Prevention 2014 offering.
V3 spoke to Darren Thomson (pictured), Symantec's chief technology officer and vice president of technology EMEA, to get further insights into the biggest successes, challenges and trends of the year.
Thomson explained that Symantec has been reinvigorated over the past year after restructuring the business with an increased focus on mobility and cloud products, and the aim is to capitalise on this as 2016 approaches.
How was 2015 for Symantec?
We have been through a year of pretty massive transition. Certainly the beginning part of the calendar year was essentially the separation of Symantec and Veritas. The motivation for that was very clear, which was the business of securing enterprises. Cyber resilience and security is an important enough topic that it's quite enough for any company. So we felt we needed to be a 100 percent focused security company doing nothing but combating cyber crime and protecting business, and that was the motivation for the separation.
As you can imagine that was quite a hard process but as of 1 April we were two functionally separate businesses, one focused on information management in Veritas and a pure security company in Symantec. I can tell you that in every area of the organisation you can already feel the benefit, just culturally apart from anything else.
There's so much going on in security right now. Five out of six businesses are being attacked every year and the traditional security defences that are being deployed are frankly not working and not keeping businesses ahead of criminals, so there's a lot to be done.
On top of that, more and more of our business and personal lives are becoming digitised, which is a fantastic opportunity that allows us to do things we couldn't have dreamed of previously, but it also carries a certain amount of risk.
The more we digitise the more exposed we are to cyber crime, so the mission is an important one and we have become a more focused company to get on with that mission.
What are some of the biggest trends you have encountered during the past year?
More and more of us are doing work on our mobile devices and that's empowering. It creates all kinds of cost efficiencies for business, but once again that dynamic is pushing applications into the cloud and that carries inherent risks that perhaps didn't exist for businesses even two years ago.
We have been very focused on the mobile user and the new generation of applications those people are using in order to do their jobs - largely cloud applications. The mobile user and their interaction with cloud applications is a big shift that we have seen accelerate in the last year.
People are recognising that the way we have authenticated ourselves for the last 30 years, via the password, is now not robust enough to protect us, so we are very invested at Symantec in helping with that.
How do we authenticate people in different and more secure ways? Of course that leads us to things like biometrics and using two-factor authentication to ensure that whoever is accessing the system is authorised. Going further than that we are starting to leverage big data and behavioural analytics.
"The mobile user and their interaction with cloud applications is a big shift that we have seen accelerate in the last year"
- Darren Thomson, Symantec
Other big trends are around the Internet of Things. We are very engaged and involved in that space. Over the last year what we have started to see is the development and strategies around internet-connected and driverless vehicles in the automotive industry, and it's pretty clear to the car manufacturers it's going to be the most secure car that wins outright. We are already in deep engineering discussions with car manufacturers around how to make the most secure car possible.
2015 has been a record year for cyber breaches. How can businesses and consumers protect themselves?
Cyber security has now moved from being a ‘nice to have' to an absolute necessity and requirement at the very first whiteboard. I think it is starting to be recognised that if you are an engineering or manufacturing firm of any kind, the very first planning about your new product has got to have security embedded. Security in the future world will be a competitive differentiator.
Consumers need to be taking some responsibility for educating themselves in a much more robust fashion than we have typically seen.
In the security industry we have a job to do and Symantec is investing very heavily in simulation technology and gamification - trying to make learning an immersive and interesting experience for people - but I think that as consumers we have a responsibility to invest the time in educating ourselves in the risks that surround us.
What are Symantec's plans for the coming year?
We are going to continue with a focus on cloud and mobile because that is certainly an attack surface for the cyber criminal that is being taken advantage of right now.
So you are going to see much more from Symantec's entire portfolio around what we refer to as information protection, which is the idea of protecting information and the connections with people.
Whether information happens to sit on a cloud somewhere and whether the people accessing it are on a laptop or mobile, wherever they are in the world, it's about making sure those interactions are as secure as they can possibly be.
It's makes me laugh sometimes that we refer to 'the cloud' when of course the reality is we are talking about many different clouds and so we have to think about protecting information and people across many different ecosystems.
We are also launching a new suite of products in December called Advanced Threat Protection solutions. What you will then start to see over the next year is that we will layer that with more and more exciting features, partnerships and the building of an ecosystem around that particular area of technology.
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