By Pete Nicoletti, Field CISO, Americas. Pete has 32 years of Security, Network, and MSSP experience and has been a hands-on CISO for the last 17 years and joined Check Point as Field CISO of the Americas. Pete’s cloud security deployments and designs have been rated by Garter as #1 and #2 in the world and he literally “wrote the book” and contributed to secure cloud reference designs as published in Intel Press: “Building the Infrastructure for Cloud Security: A Solutions View.” 

In this insightful interview, excerpted from the Fish Fry podcast, Check Point’s Field CISO Americas, Pete Nicoletti, discusses prevention-first for Small-to-Medium Businesses (SMBs) and tools that can elevate the average and enhance cyber security.

Let’s talk about Check Point’s prevention-first strategy. What exactly does that mean?

It’s really a change in attitude, as compared to what our peers and what the competition is doing. Everybody is pretty descent at detection. But, detection is not good enough anymore because of the speed between initial vector compromise and the time until data is exfiltrated (through encryption blackmail or ransomware) and to where things start to be damaged. So, it’s no longer good enough to detect something, because humans aren’t fast enough to detect something and to respond to it.

You really have to have a prevention mindset, and that’s where Check Point is absolutely in a leadership position. Check Point focuses on prevention. For example, the latest internal tests against our peers show that we’re at 99.2% for 350 different zero-days. Our nearest competitor, with full optimization, is at 70%. More than 25% of zero-day attacks are going to get through our competition, and they’ll start affecting processes, ultimately making a mess of things.

Prevention is so much better, because you can sleep at night. Whereas, with detection, you really need to keep an eye on things, and even when you’re keeping an eye on things, it’s not fast enough.

Gil Shwed, and Check Point’s founder and CEO, and the inventor of the firewall, has been 10 years ahead of the marketplace, with the way that he thinks. We were the first to announce Gen 5 attacks, and now for the last couple of years, this whole prevention-first methodology is across all of our tools – our cloud tools, our endpoint tools, and our firewalls. And our threat intelligence is second to none. As we see zero-days out there, we’re able to recognize those and distribute that out to our devices and endpoints within seconds.

It’s a whole ecosystems – it’s not just the configuration and where the tools are sitting, but the ThreatCloud and our responsiveness to new threats, is what makes the whole thing work really well for new customers.

According to a recent report, only a third of SMBs have adequate protection. So how should SMBs be thinking about security?

They have a lot of challenges – it’s typically budgeting and people. The worst stat is that 32% of SMBs end up closing their doors if they’re breached. And Check Point research, which produces reports every week, shows that the top threats are phishing, malware, ransomware, remote access and insider threats – and think about it…If the same person who’s fixing the copier is the same person who’s working on the internet router, and the firewall, well, given the probable lack of domain expertise, that’s not good enough anymore.

Small businesses need to spend just a little bit more money. The cool thing is that with Check Point’s new SMB packages, you get the endpoint tool, the firewall…etc., and it’s extremely cost-effective per user. You get the wireless access point, you get the cellular backup – so that if your internet goes down…and it’s all in a really low-cost package. But the great thing about it is that it’s enterprise-grade protection. You get the same code, the same threat cloud, the same capabilities are in these sub-$1,000 boxes that you can get from our SMB team. You get that enterprise level of protection, and enterprise-level support; so when you call in, you’re going to get top-notch support. You’re not going to get some goofball who doesn’t know how to start – you’re going to get some hyper-paranoid professional who can help you secure your systems really really well.

I love that. What do you think are the top three things that SMBs should do to protect their businesses?

Think about this. The hackers are looking for the low-hanging fruit – think about the lion parable; you just have to be faster than the slowest guy. And the lion’s going to get that slowest guy. So your goal has to be to be better than everybody else. Because the hackers are scanning continuously, and if you are not as good as everybody else, you’re going to be hacked and it’s going to be an issue.

So, to address your question…

  1. Phishing is key
  2. Your endpoints are key
  3. And then, whatever your headquarters’ servers; to protect them, in the cloud or elsewhere…

We know that 89% of malware attacks come in through phishing. So if you’re on Outlook 365, Check Point has the Avanan solution; the fastest email security tool in the business. It’s absolutely the best. It installs in 5 minutes. It’s so simple to manage. It’s just miles better than what the competition offers. And it’s so simple to manage. And it just eliminates the phishing risk.

Let’s talk about endpoint security. Because of the coronavirus, a lot of people are still working from home. A lot of people are using their corporate devices on private networks – so with just a simple security agent installation, you can lock down computers and lock down cell phones. It’s especially critical for people who have shared devices (kids on laptops…etc.,). The dangers of endpoint can be completely eliminated with Check Point’s Harmony tool.

And finally, lots of small companies are finally realizing the value of the cloud; the scalable resources, the increased reliability. As non-experts in protecting cloud assets, SMBs…For the full conversation with Pete Nicoletti, please enjoy listening to the podcast below…