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Intelligent Security: Secure by design

Helping businesses achieve true organisational resilience, by James Francis for Dimension Data.

Johannesburg, 04 Jun 2021
Read time 7min 30sec
Dimension Data’s Intelligent Security Executive, Tony Walt.
Dimension Data’s Intelligent Security Executive, Tony Walt.

Cyber crime is growing in scope and intensity. Africa and the Middle East are much deeper into this storm than many think. The FBI's 2019 Internet Crime Report ranks South Africa among the top 15 countries for the country's number of cyber crime victims. Kenya doesn't fare much better. By late 2018, it recorded an escalation of over 9 million ransomware attacks in just three months. And the World Union of Arab Bankers has said that the Middle East is now one of the most targeted regions globally.

Online criminals are a growing threat because they exploit the complexity and the ever-changing architecture of modern IT estates. Countering them isn't easy: cyber criminals are motivated by easy riches and low risks, and often backed by organised crime. Traditional security is not equipped to meet such threats. The market requires a much more hands-on, dynamic and comprehensive approach. This is where Dimension Data’s Intelligent Security go-to-market comes in.

Leading IT services provider, Dimension Data, completed its transition to operate as one entity, bringing all its subsidiaries together under a single Dimension Data brand. The powerful combination of people, technology and service delivery has expedited the growth and relevance for cross-go-to-market strategies. By bringing together the former brands of Internet Solutions, Britehouse and ContinuitySA, Dimension Data is delivering on its client-centric strategy. The objective is to provide clients with an end-to-end solution to help transform how organisations operate, sell and remain relevant.

Dimension Data’s end-to-end go-to-market positioning begins with Intelligent Infrastructure (II), which is the foundation of the modern enterprise and enables greater agility and flexibility in today’s rapidly changing market. The company provides clients with improved productivity through its Intelligent Workplace solutions (IW), helping connect people, processes, platforms and products. Dimension Data’s Intelligent Business Applications (IBA) accelerates operational efficiency and enables clients to innovate for the future, while its Intelligent Customer Experience (ICX) go-to-market strives to offer meaningful digital client experiences for its clients' customers. Integral to all solutions is Dimension Data’s Intelligent Security (ISec) go-to-market, which helps businesses achieve true organisational resilience.

Dimension Data’s Intelligent Security Executive, Tony Walt, refers to the business unit he heads as more than security. He is making this point: Dimension Data combines security disciplines with business continuity to treat security as embedded in, and innately part of, the broader business and not a peripheral necessity.

Thus, Dimension Data uses a 'secure by design' approach, says Walt: "Bringing cyber security together with business continuity gives us the whole governance, risk and compliance discussion with our clients. So, building this business was really about taking the capabilities that we had within the group from the different areas and putting them together into something that addresses security from a business-first view. Couple this with the significant investments we have made in our people and platforms, we have a demonstrable capability as a managed security service provider (MSSP)."

As businesses adapt to create more experience and digitally driven solutions, enhancing or even disrupting their industries becomes centre stage for differentiation. The complex and highly competitive landscape faced by industries due to increased customer expectation and the need for cost and operational efficiency is a challenge that technology is poised to address through integrated services.

Serious security pedigree

Dimension Data is no stranger to providing comprehensive security. This capability was previously spread across different parts of the business, supporting Dimension Data solutions and services. Walt took the opportunity to build something that goes beyond the usual security offering – a business unit that pools all that security expertise and combines it with a distinctly business-first approach.

Thus, Dimension Data pools that expertise into a ring-fenced environment that leverages key features and partnerships. The beating heart of the operation is something that Walt refers to as a security factory: "We set out to build a factory, but the factory would be built in such a way that we would be able to build multiple, repeatable, scalable and relevant services for the market, as opposed to building monolithic and bespoke services upfront."

This factory – essentially a development capability can respond to different client requirements – supports a security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) platform that, in turn, enables several crucial offerings such as managed services, security operations, monitoring, incident response and automation. This combination of development capability and platform allows the security services to extend into many offerings: advisory and assessments, infrastructure security, access governance, cloud security and business continuity. Dimension Data incorporated Continuity SA into the Intelligent Security go-to-market and leverages off the incredibly rich threat intelligence of Dimension Data's parent company, NTT.

Crucially, all these elements enable Dimension Data to secure by design, namely create security that matches the environment and requirements of a client – down to vertical use cases and proven best practices. They can assess an environment, layer their platforms across existing security investments, and introduce managed services such as monitoring, containment, remediation, incident response and other security-related services. These are augmented and customised by the 'factory' and provide continuous value through managed services.

"The managed services that we provide makes sure that the client understands what their current security posture is and what it needs to be in order to optimise the posture. And then we provide the eyes and ears in terms of overall monitoring of that estate on a 24-hour basis to respond to any critical alerts."

The pillars of good security

"Security has to add more value. It must resonate with governance, risk and compliance. It's about getting material value from the investment. That means being much more comprehensive than adding security controls. This is why we included business continuity and focus on a platform-based managed service. We don't just want to take the security headache away from our clients. We want them to see the value they get, to always feel protected and to be able to make informed decisions around their security posture."

Intelligent Security delivers this value in five areas. First, it has an advisory capacity that uses its internal skills and resources, as well as platforms and intelligence from NTT security – of which Dimension Data’s Intelligent Security go-to-market is one of NTT's five global security hubs. Secondly, Dimension Data focuses on the supply and monitoring of all infrastructure related security, and thirdly, a comprehensive focus on an access governance framework that incorporates a zero-trust approach.

Fourth is the cloud, notably to enhance the native security controls in hyperscale cloud providers along with supplementary controls where required. The unit's fifth pillar is business continuity that reaches beyond cyber related attacks, but includes everything from disaster recovery, work area recovery, governance consulting and, most recently, COVID's challenges to ensure continuity from a physical work area perspective.

These capabilities are present across Middle East & Africa, including KSA, UAE, East Africa and Southern Africa.

The dream security team

Dimension Data’s Intelligent Security go-to-market gets its effectiveness and differentiation from the great people and rich skills under its roof. This dream team, supported by a large staff complement of technical prowess and diversely talented people, enables Dimension Data to become a unique, flexible and broad-yet-nuanced solution provider. It can find and fix problems, but more critically, it can align with client environments in the provision of a managed service, utilising both domestic and global capability and deep threat intelligence, through NTT. This value is wrapped in a business-first culture, to the point that Walt is ecstatic when he finds a client with a great security posture: "It makes me so happy when a company has an optimal security posture. We want companies to be secure. We then focus on ensuring that security continues to work and improve, and consolidate that so that our clients can derive real business value based on their investment."

By combining development, platform technologies, continuity disciplines, global threat intelligence and managed services, Dimension Data helps its clients fight cyber threats in a way few other solution houses can offer, intelligently, adaptively and with discernible value generation.


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