McAfee is reborn as an independent company under TPG capital in April this year. The security landscape has changed much more than the company’s major acquirer Intel six years ago. CSO India spoke to Jagdish Mahapatra, chief of Channel Alliances - APAC, McAfee to gauge the company’s outlook, channel blueprint, and technology roadmap to dominate the security world.
How does McAfee brand under new management compared when Intel acquired it in 2011?
Most parts of McAfee operated as an independent company under Intel. That matrix now might not change under TPG. Nothing much changes at the fundamental level as the current top management is led by CEO Chris Young. Our focus on connected security since a couple of years we believe is the future. We remain committed to the product strategy and technology roadmap but new McAfee will be more nimble and agiler.
When Intel acquired McAfee in 2013 the industry expected most of the security to move on the hardware (chip). That proposition wasn’t wrong at that point of time. But the modern threat landscape has become so complex now that securing the chip or hardware does not fit the company’s IT posture beyond a point. With the advent of cloud, that basic premise is being challenged as the endpoint cannot be protected in entirety on the network alone. Hence it makes more sense to run a company independently with a singular suite of security.
TPG has been aggressive on acquisitions in technology space. And McAfee is its biggest bet in the cybersecurity world and they are equally excited and extremely committed making it a big success.
McAfee (under Intel Security) shed few products lines eighteen months ago to concentrate on connected security and cloud. Any major changes in the company’s focus today?
It is highly impractical for any IT infra to have different security products from one vendor. And those different products not talking to each other is another huge problem for CISOs. We took the big step to launch McAfee Data Exchange Layer (DXL) that unites disparate security solutions to elevate our ‘connected security’ vision to the new level.
OpenDXL launched by CEO Chris Young in October 2016 is open source messaging framework available for any developer to build linkages and share the platform to quickly integrate data for real-time security operations. OpenDXL positions McAfee very differently from other vendors as we have partners like Aruba, VMware and also security competitors that allows customers to share the intelligence they have invested in over time. McAfee is also an active partner of cyber threat alliance an initiative across the security companies and we are an active partner there.
Ransomware is a huge menace globally as there is no one fix solution with IPS, Firewall and other technologies. Building the security posture to fight ransomware is more of a technology, process and best practices by CISOs. We continue to evolve McAfee EPO platform and make it more open for 110 plus partners that includes many competitors.
Most security vendors are pitching solutions aimed at the endpoints in organization’s security posture. What’s your company’s take?
End point is becoming more critical in the modern security conundrum. Mirai botnet last year indicated that the home equipment like smart TV and web cameras are vulnerable and can be easily compromised. They can become the new weapons to enter home or even corporate network (accessed at home). The targets are the new weapons. Any device can be easily compromised as broadband routers at home have little security can be a castraphore.
Home network is becoming critical part of cybersecurity design as the executives access their mobile devices, laptops for business app or browsing at home and away from secured corporate network. CISOs and CIOs of organizations need to keep the home infra in mind too. There are very few security players like McAfee who dominate both the markets - corporate and home.
We are leveraging McAfee’s secure home platform and the Dynamic endpoint imparts that distinct edge. Our mobile protection story is working well too. And the strong consumer story gives us a good advantage to corporate customers.
Does that mean that the once distinct GTMs of consumer and enterprise markets gets unified now?
The lines are blurring between the corporate strategy and consumer strategy. This combined strategy was not thought of till we witnessed the incidents of weaponization of home devices. In 2016, we launched dynamic endpoint in the consumer market. After six to nine months, we launched the corporate version. In countries like Singapore ‘work from home’ culture with speeds over 5 Gig permits the corporate executives to access all Apps (HR, critical business apps, salesforce etcetera) on their mobile or laptop. And they access Netflix – as an example- on that same device. That’s the real world we are living in.
CISOs should seriously bake in the security plan of their employees working at homes while designing the enterprise posture. Someone clicking on ransomware mail or hacker attack from home network can enter the corporate network. And that’s there are still breaches. They should make sure that home connectivity and security controls form a part of overall posture.
What should be your channels partners’ pitch to CISOs in 2017 and beyond? Why?
Channels need to understand that the endpoint is back in focus for the hackers. They need to make sure that the endpoint solutions is addressing the future landscape like the next-gen end point that revolves around McAfee’s Dynamic endpoint. End point is the reflection of IoT proliferation and strengthening the two aspects is important. The consumer piece and how it syncs with the overall enterprise strategy will be key for their customers.
We are concerned about the risks associated for organizations moving to the cloud with respect to complex environment with holistic web, email file sharing. CISOs need to know about the critical data points and protection of the data across the network and endpoint.
Datacenter and SOCs moving more from physical box to virtual world. That big trend especially with the large corporate.
Why should channels and their customers continue their association or new customers align with New McAfee?
The value prop of McAfee as standalone security player is stronger as we will be run faster, respond better and innovate quickly. And of course our decades old understanding of both consumer and corporate market has been good at addressing the new trends in the security world.
Many of new and also old players will see the growth through integrated solution or platform play. Single point products will not work. We have a platform ready and we have solutions on protect detect correct and automate the whole piece. Channel partners need to sell the platform and many of them could be non-McAfee solutions also as we will fight product to product battle on our product merit.
DXL and OpenDXL vision fundamentally different than other vendors is a significant game changer. McAfee has crossed many chasms in our journey and stayed relevant to the new changing landscape.