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Leader Insights | TJ Gonen, Head of Cloud Security at Check Point Software

David Paul

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Check Point Software
Speaking with DIGIT, TJ Gonen, head of cloud security strategy at Check Point Software, discussed funding a new cloud security initiative, cloud implementation and the future for Check Point.

If you did not know already, the cloud is being touted as the next digital revolution after the introduction of the PC and the internet.

It is now replacing traditional data storage options; moving data off-premise and keeping it in a secure data centre, allowing it to be accessed from anywhere in the world and with far less latency.

Moving storage options in this way saves time, space and reducing the need for lots of staff to maintain them, saving time and money for firms, providing them with considerably more storage space than before, and expanding the capabilities of businesses.

However, moving large quantities of data away from in-house servers can leave it open to security risks, with data centres potentially becoming a prime target for hackers.

Implementing cloud into your business effectively is vital and building security into your processes from the outset is the best way to protect yourself from future threats.

This is no easy task though, and there are many pitfalls that firms can fall into when starting their cloud journey.

In an attempt to mitigate this impact, business security firm Check Point Software is ramping up investment in its cloud security arm due to the progress of cloud adoption during the pandemic.

DIGIT sat down with Check Point’s head of cloud security strategy, TJ Gonen, to discuss cloud adoption, boosting cloud security and the future of Check Point Software.


Check Point and the new initiative.

 

Gonen emphasises Check Point’s focus on cloud security, discussing details of the firm’s revenue and customers numbers, as well as how important cloud security is going to become in the future.

The plan, he explains, is to broaden the cloud security offerings offered by the firm, injecting cash into research and development and attracting more firms looking to protect themselves from cloud security threats.

It makes sense to expand cloud security offerings right now – cloud adoption has expanded exponentially in the last year. Research published by Global Market Insights predicts the valuation of the cloud computing market will exceed $140 billion by 2028.

“Over the last 30 years, there has been incremental technologies that shifted the cybersecurity space. Cloud is not incremental, the cloud is disruptive, and is rebuilding things again,” Gonen comments when discussing cloud technology moving forward.

“Some of these problems we have already solved, they now need to be resolved. So that is why you need a lot of investment unless you’re only going to solve a small part of it.”

As a cloud security specialist, Gonen says, he will need to “look back” at what has been achieved so far in the cloud security space which will allow him to continue to “execute effectively”.


Cloud security implementation

Check Point Software

Over the last 10 years, the adoption of new technologies has rapidly increased, largely to the pace at which society has begun to use them.

In terms of cloud adoption, in Scotland alone, almost three-quarters (71%) of businesses are now using it, with 43% of firms considering their cloud journey as ‘mature’ or ‘mainstream’, according to research from Brightsolid.

Gonen muses that, 20 years ago, firms would see the implementation of new technologies as an afterthought; something that would take time and money to implement. This meant it would sit on the backburner while businesses look at immediate issues.

However, now everything has changed, Gonen states. Many claimed they would never move their data into the cloud; now, he says, that is a daily occurrence.

When adopting cloud for the first time, there are many factors that need to be considered.

Speaking at the DIGIT Cloud First event last week, Jon Gaspirini noted security as one of three major areas a business leader needs to get under control when starting their cloud adoption journey.

Gonen notes the importance of having a unified front as you begin this journey. He says that the automation of cloud security is the main way to navigate a large number of tools available to you and get your security in check.

“What is the panacea that you’re trying to go to? You are trying to get to a point where you can actually automate cloud security because you will lose if you do not,” Gonen says.

“If you think about the sheer concept of being able to automate cloud security in such a complex environment, how are you going to do it with 20 different tools? You are going to lose almost upfront.”


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Gonen continues: “Whether it’s perimeter or micro-segmentation, new workloads, posture management, cloud application security, workload security or intelligence, all that stuff needs to come on a single platform.”

Additionally, it is vital, Gonen says, to ensure that you are shoring up security as quickly as possible. The cloud is moving and changing so rapidly, failing to adapt and change with it will leave you behind your competitors.

Gonen says: “These businesses are going to lose. Larger organisations that three or four years ago said ‘we are going to be slow with cloud adoption because of security concerns,’ today one of the reasons they change is because they know that they’re going to be losing a significant competitive advantage if they do not adopt cloud.

“It’s not even a choice. You have to because your competitor went there and they can move way faster than you with your rigid, non-agile traditional computing infrastructure. So, you have to.”


The current state of cloud security

The pandemic has certainly had a massive impact on cloud adoption. As mentioned before, the pace at which firms have had to change how their businesses run has increased exponentially, and cloud adoption is a big part of that.

“This pandemic is crazy in so many ways,” Gonen says. It has busted myths there were around what is productive and what is not, what is doable and what is not.

“What happened is that the pandemic accelerated a lot of the things that were already happening, it forced a dramatic acceleration”.

And this sudden acceleration, Gonen says, means the cloud has benefitted dramatically from the pandemic. It forced companies that would normally be quite slow in the uptake to be almost reckless in their adoption because they had no choice.

“That created a lot of movement around solutions and adopting solutions and accelerated adoption of cloud security, so it did not really well for us, it did really well for anyone in cloud security. It just proved that you can.”

However, despite the benefits, fast adoption also comes with increased security risk, Gonen says. There is now a ‘new class’ of cyber threats, meaning that cloud security needs to remain a top priority.

Justin Augat, Vice-President of Marketing at iland, says that many organisations are still relying on “outdated backup strategies” that “put their firms at risk from cybercrime, human error and physical disaster.”


Future plans at Check Point Software

Looking ahead, Gonen says that Check Point Software has some interesting things on the horizon. The new investment will primarily be used to support the current cloud environments and to continue evolving.

Gonen says that the most vital aspect of the business being accelerated going forward is automation: “A lot of machine learning, artificial intelligence behavioural analytics, a lot of technologies like that that come into play in order to make sure that you can lean back, and stuff just happens. That’s the third pillar of the evolution”.

Additionally, Check Point will be looking to support the “crazy amount” of new services being released. Amazon alone launched 1,700 new cloud-based services in 2020.

Gonen says: “They continuously change the services and add new capabilities and when they add a new capability, we have to secure it and make sure it’s configured properly. It is endless.”

And the reason so many products are being released, Gonen says, is because the cloud is the latest digital revolution, taking over from the PC and the internet that started it all.

“The cloud is the new windows; it’s the operating system for the data centres,” Gonen says.

“Just like you built applications on top of Windows and Windows API, that is the cloud now, for your entire data centre and application environment.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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