Reseller News

Getting a sixth sense for trouble

Websense makes its case at Westcon show

Data security solution provider Websense played a dirty trick on its own staff last year.

According to Alison Higgins-Miller, the vendor's APAC vice president, the company was able to trick 73 percent of its sales force to open a dubious email with the subject line "Q4 Commission Plan Changes".

And more than half of those replied with sensitive data.

The exercise brings into sharp focus that while threats are everywhere, data leakage and security breaches are very much a human affair.

"That gives an idea that the people who are trying to get information from you think about what's important to you," Higgins-Miller said.

The expatriate New Zealander, who has been with Websense for three years, was in Auckland on May 14 for the Westcon Imagine event, and sat down with Reseller News between a long flight in and a presentation she was to make at the end of the afternoon.

With two hires in place by the end of 2012, including Simone Nuenz as territoy manager, Websense has hoped to gain the same kind of traction in New Zealand clients with an emphasis on its ability to deal with threats regardless of their entry into a network.

And with the idea that its reseller partners may be able to win business together.

"Our partners fall into thte two groups," she said. "One is the systems integrator, and the other is the partner that has already built an almost boutique capability in Websense, and they know how to fit the solution into their customers' evnironment, and it's important for them to understand their customers business and the type of data they want to protect."

Higgins-Miller says the company provides resellers with best practices along with technology that is described as predictive, not responsive to threats.

"Most breaches, whether deliberate or inadvertent are simply damaging to the users," Higgins-Miller says. "Our job is to make suer we know what information should be protected, who can handle it, where it can go to and regardless of end poont."

Higgins-Miller grew up in Wellington and got into IT after Uni. She moved to Australia and has worked in CRM, ERP and now security.

"I've never done the same thing twice," she said. "I'm always interested in new challenges and what's the area of growth. A lady in India said to me the most secure place you can be is in security, adn she was talking about job security. "

Higgins-Miller had recently attended a CSO conference in India, a market that the company has put a lot of focus on since she came to Websense three years ago. She says Websense has been popular in the outsourced call centre industry there, where employees making very little money, pose a leakage threat because the data they handle is high-value.

In New Zealand, Websense has 50 customers, mostly in the private sector, with some government engagement. She says that with feet on the ground (the company hired a sales engineer at the end of 2012) she is pushing harder into the market with hopes of bringing growth up to the same level as other regions in APAC.

"New Zealand has been quiet. We have a big operation in Australia, run primarily by Australians before I arrived,?" Higgins-Miller says.

With best practices and daily updated database of 8 billion suspect URLs to draw from, Websense emphasises that it goes out looking for trouble,

"Security isn't about what happened, but what is going to happen," Higgins-Miller said.

Facebook uses Websense to protect users from phishing scams.

"What happens is someone clicks on a lure. like how to lose 10 lbs in 10 days," she says. "They click on that, and a menu pops up saying 'Are you sure?' and in the time it takes for them to say 'yes' we've already traced it back to the origin and that happens in real time."

She says this focus on advanced persistent threats is the main message her team is conveying to resellers and customers alike.

"In web protection, most customers have something in place, and with email," she says. "Because our stystems are integrated in the Triton platform, we can see blended threats. nobody else has done this."