2022 Thought Leaders: Jon McGettigan
What opportunities do you predict for the growth of your industry in 2022?
There is a clear opportunity in the critical infrastructure sector where operational technology (OT) devices are becoming more connected. Previously secured by virtue of being air-gapped, these devices are now connected to the internet and to corporate networks, creating an urgent need for them to be secured. These conversations are happening outside the IT department, which was traditionally responsible for security.
Also, with supply chain issues creating challenges for many manufacturers in the technology industry, opportunities will be created for those manufacturers who can meet demand. There have been some issues for manufacturers that need silicon for example, which forms a significant part of the technology market. This means that, while some vendors will struggle to ship products, those that plan in advance and do not use a just-in-time approach will be best-placed to fulfil customer needs.
What are the three biggest challenges or threats facing your industry in 2022?
I see the three largest challenges as being the securing of OT systems, the securing of remote workers and meeting the rising challenges and costs of freight.
The Australian Government is moving to classify more industries as critical infrastructure, putting pressure on organisations in those industries to comply with legislation regarding their cybersecurity preparedness. Securing OT is challenging due to numerous factors. Chiefly, OT is usually legacy equipment with a decades-long lifespan and was never designed to support cybersecurity tools such as agents. Updating or patching this technology is usually impossible, especially because OT systems can’t generally be taken offline to do so.
The leap in the number of people working from home due to the pandemic also created security risks for organisations that didn’t have effective solutions in place. Attacks were created to leverage the confusion caused by the pandemic, and businesses had to move quickly to provision remote workers. The fallout from this will continue into 2022 as businesses try to work out how to secure a workforce that remains remote at least to some extent.
For technology manufacturers, the shortage of silicon and magnesium will make it difficult to meet market demand for new products. Meanwhile, the cost of freight is increasing as COVID-19 disruptions have made it difficult to process ships and cargoes in a timely fashion. Companies like Fortinet that manufacture their own products and operate with a six-month lead time will be better placed to cope with this challenge and continue providing products to customers as needed.
What impacts have the pandemic lockdowns had on your industry, and how does this affect your business strategies for 2022?
The pandemic lockdowns meant people had to work from home, creating significant demand for security solutions that could protect remote workers, such as secure SD-WAN. The need for increased security has bolstered the industry, accelerating growth.
The spikes in cybersecurity attacks on OT infrastructure have heightened awareness of this critical area over the last 18 months. Fortinet is focused on delivering solutions that protect OT infrastructure in 2022 and beyond. Because the decisions regarding OT infrastructure are made at a global level, security vendors will require strong global relationships to ensure their security is embedded in the OT architecture. Fortinet is looking to lead the charge in this space.
How have the current international circumstances impacted your cybersecurity and/or supply chain management plans for 2022?
According to IDC, Fortinet manufactured 59% of all security appliances entering Australia in the first half. Supply chain issues have increased costs, which means that the business has had to be prepared to adapt and take on more cost to avoid passing the full cost increase to customers. As a manufacturer, Fortinet is unlikely to be affected by supply chain issues because there is significant stock on hand and the business continues to build in advance.
What are your thoughts about remote working technologies, mandating vaccines and supporting staff?
Fortinet was designed to be a remote workforce. At the height of the pandemic, Fortinet’s purpose-built technical assistance centre (TAC) in Sydney transitioned to working remotely and it was completely seamless. In fact, quality of service increased during this time. Staff were provisioned with firewalls and other essential technology to make this happen.
The Fortinet Testing and Assurance Lab also enables live tests to be viewed remotely. The capability was conducted with a large enterprise customer during lockdown and the process was seamless.
Meanwhile, Fortinet has provided extensive support for staff members by running online sessions with educational and motivational speakers providing entertainment, and even yoga, via Zoom calls. The business provided care packages for customers and staff and conducted a wellness program with meditation and sessions on how to deal with anxiety.
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