Technology is running the world. Especially today in the wake of COVID-19, we are witnessing how businesses who are not technologically equipped are getting wiped off. However, as more and more businesses rely on technology, a lot of data is being generated on a global scale. While data holds value for all major industries and customer-facing businesses, this data is also vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Cybercriminals are always on the lookout to exploit vulnerabilities in a system and get access to the company’s crucial data. Consequently, companies rely on cybersecurity service providers to protect their clients’ data.
We recently interviewed Katya Ivanova – Vice-President, Worldwide Inside Sales, Acronis.
Katya comes with a vast international experience. Her team supports a strong partner ecosystem that reaches customers in more than 150 countries worldwide. Katya is responsible for the execution of sales strategy and the development of critical programs to help Acronis attract new service providers and support the growth of existing partner network.
Read on as she shares her thoughts on changing cyber threat landscape and what Acronis has in-store for service providers and customers to enhance their business’s cybersecurity status.
J: Acronis Global Cyber Summit 2020 got over recently. How was the experience? Also, share with our readers the idea behind hosting a hybrid event.
K: We hosted the event hybrid – both virtual and in-person. The virtual event was for those professionals who were pushed to work from home due to COVID-19 restrictions, while the live event saw a few partners in the office who took all the necessary precautions.
The virtual event gave a very natural vibe to the whole atmosphere of the event throughout all three days.
During the event, we also had a community meeting. Despite the fact that a lot of people and most of the audience were virtual, we were still communicating with our partners through the channel and we had several leaders, sales executives, and technical specialists in different regions, who were commenting on the questions from the audience, which kind of also replicated the natural experience from the event that we had last year where people could actually communicate throughout the event, and not just watch through the video.
J: Okay. Great! During the summit, Acronis launched a CyberFit Academy – to train IT managers and users, security specialists, and more. So, are the courses available for free? How will it help partners and resellers?
K: We believe at Acronis that knowledge is power, and if you look at the current cybersecurity threats – they are happening not because the attack is at IT department but it’s actually happening with employees. So, that’s why we really conduct courses on not only educating people about our solution but also on the general threat landscape and best cybersecurity practices.
The academy is focused on three different angles:
- Product and overall technology
- Marketing and sales – how to sell Acronis solutions
- Developers – because we have a platform where our partners can integrate with our solution
In 2020, they are available free of any charges. In 2021, only a few courses would be free, others might be on a paid module. Acronis also has Acronis CyberFit Academy (accessible via partner portal) where our partners can get certified free of charge. This is because we don’t want to limit our partners in accessing these training sessions.
J: So, are there some regional restrictions to join these courses or they are available worldwide?
K: Anyone can join from any country. For signed partners, we have a wider variety of courses. At the end of the day, we are educating a lot of people through these courses. We even have an Acronis foundation where we invest a lot into building schools for children in third-level countries.
J: There’s a quick rise in cybersecurity cases during these trouble times. You have been in the cyber protection space for over a decade now. How do you think has the threat landscape evolved? Is it just me or you know everyone is noticing that there’s a change in this threat landscape?
K: I think that’s obvious that in the past decade the amount of data has increased, the number of applications has increased. Ten years back, we didn’t really have the access to so much data from any device.
Right now, especially in COVID, people are working from home and as a result, we as employees become more and more vulnerable which makes hackers even better equipped to steal data from us.
If you look at the cyber stats, 95 per cent are happening because of human error which means that people are not really aware of what they are doing – they are opening some email which they shouldn’t be opening, clicking some links providing information, their personal information on some websites and therefore, they give access to cybercriminals to the company which can be stolen.
So, the past decade just really changed and expanded the companies’ threat surface because of the multitude of devices through which this data can be accessed.
J: Okay. Let’s now discuss a specific product of Acronis – Acronis cyber platform. What exactly is that? And what’s in it for service providers that makes it unique?
K: Acronis cyber platform was designed for ISVs (Independent Software Vendors), developers, and Managed Service Providers (MSPs). This platform gives them the possibility to customize, integrate, and expand applications and services. We did this because we wanted to give our partners the ability to increase their revenues, to be more competitive in the market, and also to reduce the churn.
This platform comes with APIs and SDKs powered by Acronis and can be integrated into whatever solution or application they (partners) are developing themselves.
And overall, what we have seen with Acronis is that the fastest growing partners are the ones who have integrations with us. Because right now, with a multitude of applications and different software that companies are using – integration is the key to decrease the TCO (total cost of ownership).
J: Virtual workspace is now a reality. Acronis and Citrix are developing an integrated solution for managed service providers, designed to enhance the protection of their client’s Citrix workspace assets no matter where they sit. So, can you please shed some light on that?
K: I think that Acronis and Citrix realize that right now distractions are coming from the fact that we are using so many tools, that are not really integrated. With virtual workspace, they (MSPs) can integrate whatever applications the employee is using into one platform.
Acronis Cyber Protect is a logical addition to this because we will be able to transcend the security of this platform and make sure that no matter where this employee is – in the office, at home, or working from wherever the location – they will be still protected in the protected environment which is right now of course very hard to do just because these people are outside of the corporate networks.
J: That’s great. We would like to know more about it as it sounds like the need for the new normal that we are living right now.
K: For sure, and we’ll see that more and more companies will be investing into such solutions just because they realize that one tool or a multitude of tools that are not integrated with each other is not enough.
You can think of it as the army. You might have millions of soldiers but if these soldiers are not talking to each other and there’s no unified force, they have lesser chances to win.
With this new integrated solution with Citrix, our platforms are talking to each other. Whatever happens to the Citrix or whatever happens to the client-side, we understand these changes and therefore we are faster and much more efficient in blocking or remediating the threat.
So, for example, active protection, that we have in this solution, if there was a ransomware attack, which your antivirus wasn’t able to stop, Acronis will be able to automatically restore the data without user interference.
What does this mean? It means zero-downtime for you as a customer. And as a company, it is extremely important because there are various industries like banking where every minute counts. So, that’s why this integration with Citrix is extremely important right now. This is something they will need not only today, but in the future as well, because cyber threats will only increase, and they are not going away. By 2023, it is expected to rise by 6 trillion dollars.
J: Acronis also recently announced building more than 100 new data centers around the world. How will this expansion benefit the enterprises? What are the Acronis plans behind this expansion?
K: One thing that we noticed recently is that countries are more and more sensitive to where the data is located. For example, before globalization, everybody was welcoming and was investing in, right now it is something countries look into.
For example, in India, there have been a lot of recent legislations in terms of data protection – where data needs to be stored. When we asked our customers – how can we become better? Most of them want to have a data center in their country.
Thus, we plan to build 111 data centers around the world, including India.
This is to make sure that we give the customer and partner the freedom of choice as in where they want to store their data.
J: That sounds like a great plan. So, where in India, will be the data centers of Acronis? If you have any idea.
K: Right now, we are just looking at that. We will be able to communicate later but of course, we are looking for a major space like Mumbai or Delhi. But again, we would see where it will be.
J: Okay, fine. We have all heard that passwords are not the future. There is a rise in technologies like Multi-Factor Authentication, bio-metrics other advanced technologies like AI and blockchain. What do you think is the future of cyber protection going to be and some final words on what role will Acronis play in this?
K: I think that unfortunately cyber-attacks are rising and therefore cyber-protection will be even more and more important. A couple of years back, a lot of companies and analysts were asking us why you do this cyber protection. People already have security products, people already have some backup products, why do you merge them together? Why do you need this integration?
And right now, if you even look at our competitors, they are making more and more emphasis on cyber protection, on cybersecurity despite the fact that they are backup vendors.
The future is in integration, the future is in having that one system that understands what is happening and if something did happen then it should automatically restore the data. Right now, different analytics reports take nearly 6 months to detect that some data breach has happened. It takes a company 6 months to realize that their data is compromised and by then, most of the losses have already been incurred.
For the future, companies must focus on investing more into- first of all protecting and preventing the data and then on rolling back the damage.
Because, right now, it’s one thing if you rolled back to the previous state in one minute and the other thing if it took you 10 days. It is not only loss of data but the loss of reputation as well. Because it’s something that was public all over the news. We saw a lot of great companies hit by different attacks and in just recent years.
J: Okay, so where do you see Acronis in Indian markets as such as you have got distributors. Like ZNet Technologies is a distributor of Acronis in India so how do you foresee the future of Acronis in India.
K: We will say that we have actually invested in the Indian market. We have hired a larger team and we saw that we are really picking up. A lot of people are approaching us themselves expressing interest in becoming our resellers or service providers.
A lot of customers see the value of our products which is a great sign that what we do is right, and people really see the value which was our number one priority.
Where I see us in India, we have expanded the number of partners that we work with and it’s actually increasing 100 per cent year over year and also in data that we are storing in a number of workloads that we are protecting and in few years, this will be one of our key markets.