ViewQwest battles Singtel, StarHub, M1 for cyber-security market with own security operations centre

ViewQwest plans to invest some S$2 million to S$3 million over the next two years in the SOC to allow it to go after bigger clients, and pit itself against bigger rivals Singtel, StarHub and M1.
ViewQwest plans to invest some S$2 million to S$3 million over the next two years in the SOC to allow it to go after bigger clients, and pit itself against bigger rivals Singtel, StarHub and M1. PHOTO: VIEWQWEST

SINGAPORE - Locally based ViewQwest is jostling for a share of the lucrative cyber-security market with the setting up of its first security operations centre (SOC) here.

The Internet service provider plans to invest some S$2 million to S$3 million over the next two years in the SOC to allow it to go after bigger clients, and pit itself against bigger rivals Singtel, StarHub and M1 - all of which have recently launched their own SOCs.

Most of ViewQwest's investments will go to the hiring of security personnel to staff the centre, which has been running for three months by about 10 employees.

The setting up of its SOC - which provides managed security monitoring - coincides with the launch of its new Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) service, among other new offerings.

ViewQwest chief executive Vignesa Moorthy said: "It is timely to expand our focus on cyber security to help businesses here better navigate the increasingly murky waters of cyberspace."

He said companies need to rely on more than just firewalls to defend their data. This is because the increasing use of personal mobile devices to access corporate data stored in the cloud is subjecting companies to greater security risks.

Take ViewQwest's CASB service, supplied by third-party vendor Bitglass. It works in the background to scan all the files moving between users' devices and the cloud servers to filter out threats - without requiring users to install additional software on their mobile phones.

Mr Tony Jarvis, chief strategist of Check Point Software Technologies, said the risk of malware infection has multiplied owing to two trends: greater use of cloud e-mail and storage services - including Google Drive, Dropbox and Office 365 - and increasingly flexible policies that allow employees to use their personal devices to access official resources.

"We used to have this concept of a network perimeter," he said, noting that only company-issued computers could access corporate e-mail and files in the past.

But now, employees are also increasingly allowed to use their personal devices, which may be malware infected, to access official resources.

In the aftermath of the global spread of malware WannaCry and NotPetya that struck governments and healthcare and port operators in many countries over the last three months, security experts are warning against such a practice.

Ms Sylvia Ng, South-east Asia general manager of security specialist Kaspersky Lab, said that even if the use of personal devices is allowed, the use of a security solution is crucial.

"This is especially if smartphone vendors are slow to enable security patches," she added.

Mr Tushar Richabadas, security systems maker Barracuda Networks' product manager, concurred. "Cloud storage providers do some level of checks to ensure that malware does not spread via their services. However, there are always chances of such malware spreading before they are caught," he said.

Last September, M1 launched an SOC providing threat-monitoring and filtering services in partnership with cyber-security firms Palo Alto Networks, Proficio and Red Sentry.

In May last year, StarHub launched an SOC that provides similar services. Its SOC is the first commercial initiative from a five-year $200 million commitment it has made with partners - including cyber-security firms Blue Coat, Cyberbit, Fortinet and Wedge Networks - to strengthen Singapore's cyber-security capabilities.

Singtel was the first to launch an SOC in February 2015. The telco partnered FireEye, with plans to invest up to US$50 million (S$63.9 million) over five years to train 150 cyber-security professionals in Singapore and Australia.