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'Wireless, weakest security link in enterprise IT' - Fortinet research

'Wireless, weakest security link in enterprise IT' - Fortinet research.

Multinational network security services and solutions vendor Fortinet has confirmed that the deal to acquire Meru Networks, a global provider of enterprise intelligent Wi-Fi networking, will be finalised in the second week of July.

The transaction signals Fortinet's intention to intensify its focus on the enterprise wireless security space.

The company has confirmed it will roll out a fresh enterprise secure wireless offering for the Africa market in the next two quarters.

Perry Hutton, Fortinet Africa regional director, says the offering is part of a consistent and deliberate focus on its wireless security offering and service to the enterprise space.

During its 14 years of operation, Fortinet has applied a business model based on full control and ownership of its capability, with a limited number of original equipment manufacturers and a strategy of having the right technology in place at the right time.

Consistent and specific focus on network security has allowed the company to capture market share from traditional players.

Wireless growth

Wireless is an example. Management says as a result of its model, it has been able to adapt to key trends and immediately kit itself out to service the market. Its end-to-end offering includes wireless access technology, access points and cloud management.

Based on Fortinet's own research, most IT decision makers regard the wireless network as the weakest security link in enterprise IT infrastructure.

A survey of over 1,490 IT decision makers at 250+ employee organisations globally found that wireless networks are considered the most vulnerable element of the IT infrastructure.

92% of the executives polled are concerned about insufficient wireless security. This is not a surprise to Fortinet, given, they say, that "more than one-third of the enterprise wireless networks put in place for internal employees, do not have the basic security function of authentication in place."

Other statistics revealed in the survey include:

  • 48% of respondents consider loss of sensitive corporate and/or customer data the biggest risk of operating an unsecured wireless environment.
  • 72% have adopted a cloud approach to management of their wireless infrastructure and 88% trust the cloud for future wireless deployment.
  • 43% of those polled provide guest access on their corporate wireless networks; 13% of these organisations do so without any controls whatsoever.

The prolific adoption of Wi-Fi and advent of mobile devices has steered the company towards adapting its offering and service delivery.

The speed factor alone offers perspective on how and why this space has grown so quickly says Fortinet. "If you look at the last fifteen years, we went from 10Mb to 1G... with wireless we went from 50Mb to 6G in eighteen months," says Tinus Janse van Rensburg, Fortinet SE manager Africa.

Despite the findings of international market research which claims that there has been a slight decline in Africa's network security market, there is a demand within the wireless network security space.

Africa focus

Fortinet's footprint in Africa is split across the continent, with designated teams responsible for specific countries spread across English-speaking, Francophone and SADC regions. Countries covered include Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Liberia, Cairo, Nairobi, Tanzania and Angola, as well as all countries in the South.

"In terms of numbers, the team here in the South does about 40% of the number, and 60% coming from the rest of Africa. Of that 60%, probably 40% is from Egypt to the East, 40% from the North and French countries, and 20% from the biggest economy in Africa," says Hutton.

"We've seen our business grow significantly. At the moment we are seeing 35% year-on-year growth in the South, despite our economy at 1.5%, and between Egypt and the North we are seeing between 50% and 75% year-on-year growth," he continues.

In the South, IDC has ranked Fortinet as the largest security appliance vendor in this market from checkpoint. "That is against the international grain where Fortinet ranks usually number three or four."

In addition to tailoring its wireless security offering, part of the company's focus going forward is to continue to engage with clients as they deal with issues like compliance, convergence and mobility.

"South Africa there is a higher degree, believe it or not, of compliance... largely driven by an active stock exchange, the number of listed companies, the King Commission and regulation like POPI," says Hutton.

There is very little proactive security purchase outside the southern African country, particularly in the corporate space, he continues. "But this is slowly changing."

Fortinet's immediate plans are to adapt its wireless approach, integrate and leverage Meru Networks' enterprise intelligent Wi-Fi offering.

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