IT’S almost the end of the year and like most corporate executives, Jeff Castillo finds himself in a mad rush to finish everything that has to be done and prepare for the coming year. It is his duty, he says, to constantly update his clients and inform them of new trends that may have an impact on their businesses for both the short and long term. Castillo is in the business of cybersecurity, and while the term may not be on the list of priorities for many companies, he says that in fact it should.
Castillo is the country manager of Fortinet in the Philippines. The company is one of the global leaders in network security appliance solutions, and provides real-time network protection to more than 225,000 customers worldwide. Fortinet offers products and services that provide broad, integrated and high-performance protection against dynamic security threats, while at the same time simplifying the IT security infrastructure. In layman’s rhetoric, they are known as a worldwide provider of next generation firewalls, and is said to be the market leader in unified threat management. Founded in 2000, the company is also publicly listed on NASDAQ and has its corporate headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.
Fortinet entered the Philippine market in 2004 although it was only in 2009 that the cybersecurity company was able to formally open its office in Manila. Castillo says Fortinet’s opening of an office in Manila solidifies their commitment of “being here for our clients and are dedicated to providing them excellent service and that the business is here to stay.” He says their target market is huge and includes all vertical industries, describing it in a simpler manner by saying, “if you are in the business, and you have an internet account you use and need to protect, then we are here for you.”
At present, Castillo says they currently serving banks and financials, telecommunications companies and carriers, retail and manufacturing firms, and government agencies. But he adds that they also cater to SMEs as well, and this is because they have priced their products and services to accommodate the size of the business entity.
The Fortinet Philippines’ CEO also proudly states that they are now number one in the country, according to the latest result of a commissioned ratings survey. But instead of resting on their laurels, Castillo says they need to do more. He says one of their biggest challenges is still the fact that for many, cybersecurity is a term companies of all sizes know they must deal with, yet know very little of. This is why they hold regular briefings for their clients and the media in general to constantly update everyone on the current trends and developments in the cybersecurity industry.
In particular, he mentions at least five top cybersecurity trends for 2016. The first, he says, will be increased M2M (machine to machine) attacks and propagation between devices. It becomes increasingly crucial to protect one’s devices in the coming years, especially given the fact that there will be about 20 billion connected devices by the year 2020.
The second trend is the rise of computer worms and viruses designed to specifically attack devices. Castillo says their own FortiGuard Lab researchers warn of potential harm for a multitude of devices, from wearables to medical hardware. Third on the list are attacks on cloud and virtualized infrastructures, while fourth is the rise of the ultra-smart ghostware, which conceals indications of compromise without a trace. The last and potentially one of the most dangerous, Castillo says, are malware that can evade even advanced sandboxing technologies.
When one actually thinks of these, the internet especially for businesses can indeed be a scary place to be. That is why Castillo says companies like them are constantly investing in research and development to always protect their clients. They also conduct sessions with some schools in the country to help increase awareness and do knowledge sharing.
Castillo says despite the challenges, he is quite happy with the robust double-digit growth of their company. He is also expanding their team to meet the needs of their ever-increasing client base.
“When we started, we were only two persons. Now we are a total of 11 people.” Because of their company’s continuous growth, Castillo says he and his team continue to multitask. He doesn’t mind the extra work, he says. He just makes sure to find time to relax whenever his schedule permits, and spends time with his family in Laguna. He also likes to bike and goes to the gym whenever he can. But overall, he says he is just plain happy pursuing his passion through his work, and hopes to someday play a role at the regional level. Until then, he says he hopes to educate more on the dangers lurking in the internet and what they can do to protect themselves, one industry at a time.