In August Check Point announced the appointment of Pankaj Bhula as the new Regional Director for Africa. With over 25 years’ experience in the IT sector, Bhula is tasked with the responsibility of driving Check Point’s market share and business growth across the continent.
He has worked for the likes of IBM, Dimension Data, Microsoft, and most recently SAP where he headed several units ranging from the Strategic Partnership Organisation to the Cloud Group and General Business Division. Bhula is an MBA graduate in Computer Science.
In an interview with IT News Africa, Bhula shared his plans for the region, the cybersecurity landscape, the current trending threats and opportunities that exist in Africa.
1. What are your plans as the new regional director for Africa?
I am particularly excited and passionate about the addressable market opportunity within the African continent. As far as it relates to Check Point Software, we have a significant opportunity to add value and influence businesses on the risks of cybersecurity, especially considering that it is no longer just a “nice-to-have” in this digital transformation age we currently experiencing. As one of the leading global Cyber Security organisations, with over 25 years’ experience, it is our responsibility to assist businesses in realising the risks they are exposed to and, as such, the reasons they need to invest in protecting themselves and their employees.
In my new role, I will specifically be focusing on ensuring that we continue to provide the best advice and service to the ecosystem, thereby actively growing our market share and business footprint across the continent. My intentions are to achieve this by targeting various growth markets, as well, mobilising the local teams to drive industry best practices in our dealing with our existing and prospective clients.
2. What will you be doing differently?
I will focus on growth markets and industry best practices will exemplify our current coverage model across Africa. To name a few, we have identified French and North Africa as a target market, alongside specific industries such as Public Sector, Financial Services, Telecommunications and Natural Resources.
3. How would you describe your management style?
My approach is to create a high-performance business environment where the team is both qualified and empowered to successfully deliver against business objectives, with a strong sense of accountability. This creates a working space where the entire team is responsible for driving the collective success of the companies goals.
4. What the cybersecurity landscape looks like in Africa?
In a recent Cyber Attack Trends Report (2019 Mid-Year), it was clear that very few environments are immune to cyber-attacks. The report once again highlighted that threat actors continue to develop new toolsets and techniques, targeting corporate assets stored on cloud infrastructure, individuals’ mobile devices, trusted third-party supplier applications and even popular mail platforms. More concerning, is that the majority of global organisations today, have landscapes that support Gen I and II security maturity levels.
We are in an era sophisticated type Gen V attacks. In relation to Africa, we are no different with over 5 African countries, including Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, in the top 25 highest risk countries in Check Point’s Global Threat Impact Index for July. Today’s organisations need to maintain a minimum Gen VI security portfolio to transact in this new digital world of cloud and mobility.
5. In your opinion, do you think Africa is up to the task of being able to combat cyber threats?
Definitely, but organisations will have to adopt up-to-date security solutions and best practices more aggressively. A breach or attack only becomes measurable and impactful after detection which is too late. Therefore we should focus on prevention instead of detection. Africa also has a unique advantage given that adherence to regulation and security compliance standards can easily be adopted and deployed, especially since African companies are able to leapfrog their equivalent counterparts in other regions due to lack of historical legacy environments that many times inhibit quick execution and flexibility.
6. What are the current trending threats in the market?
Given that the security landscape is ever-evolving there is a continuous stream of new and existing threats. But two of the most relevant threats that organisations need to address today is Cloud computing and Mobile technology. 1) Cloud: The growing popularity of public cloud environments has led to an increase in cyber-attacks targeting enormous resources and sensitive data residing within these platforms. 2) Mobile: Mobile devices are such an integrated part of our daily lives, with a lot of personal and organisational information on them, making them key targets for cybercriminals.
7. How do you plan to leverage opportunities that exist within the market from a cybersecurity point of view?
There are various factors that will play a role in leveraging the current opportunities across the continent, which include the likes of educating our customers, partners and broader ecosystem. In today’s fast-evolving digital transformation age, Zero Day threat prevention principles is paramount. We need to capitalize on the opportunity by raising the awareness of Check Point’s all-around security offering called “Infinity”, which offers real-time protection against the advanced cyber threats.