D&H VAR Roundtable: Ransomware Is The Largest Threat In The SMB Market

Ransomware attacks are the largest threat facing small and mid-size businesses right now, according to a number of D&H Distributing partners that spoke with CRN during D&H Distributing's recent New England Technology Show in Quincy, Mass. And that threat, they said, is only going to get bigger.

Solution providers, some of whom participated in a CRN roundtable discussion at the D&H Distributing New England Technology Show, are ramping up their security offerings and expanding their data protection and backup strategies to meet the growing ransomware threat.

’The biggest issue that we have is trying to find products that can stop the ransomware,’ said Kenny Rounds, CEO of Taunton, Mass.-based Braver Technology Solutions.

[Related: D&H Joins Forces with AVG To Provide SMB-Friendly Antivirus Support]

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Rounds has clients that have been hit with ransomware. And although he has been able to save his clients' data each time so far, a number of his peers have not been as fortunate. That leaves him constantly on the lookout for a security product that will help keep his clients safe.

’I think anybody in our industry has to do something with security and antivirus, I don’t think that is optional,’ he said, noting that if a security product could guarantee that none of his clients would get ransomware, he would buy it right away.

Phillip Horne, CEO of Hooksett, N.H.-based Computer Networking Services has been ramping up his own security services to protect his clients from ransomware.

Horne’s company has been a partner with security vendor TrendMicro for over 10 years, he said, noting that TrendMicro is a popular anti-virus solution. But with ransomware attacks increasing in the last six to nine months, he has started implementing additional security solutions from Webroot and security appliances from Datto.

In the end, however, Horne admitted that he doesn’t believe that any security company will be able to protect his clients 100 percent of the time – and that has increased the importance of his data backup offering.

’Backups have become far, far more critical than they used to be simply because of the ransomware threat," he said. "In IT, the first reason you will get fired for is not having good backups. In all the years I have been in this, I can’t tell you the number of times our company has replaced another provider because of ineffective backup solutions.’

"It’s just a nasty bug that will come and bite you if you aren't paying attention, so you have to really pay attention to that - on top of security, of course,’ Horne said.

But even providing general backup is sometimes not enough, according to Rounds, because an attack can compromise the backup data if it can find the shared drive or data drive that the backup is going to.

Which, he said, is why his company’s off-site data replication service has become an important part of his company's services.

’It is a high-risk, low-reward solution, but it is a necessary evil to provide,’ he said. ’It is high risk because we are in charge of their data and that is the most important thing we can be in charge of. And it is low reward because it is a competitive space and the margins are low.’

His company will continue to provide an off-site data replication service because his clients need it, and he believes the threat is only going to become worse.

’Before, attackers were just proud of writing a virus - now, they are actually making money with it. It is a profitable industry, at this point, which means it is just going to get worse,’ he said.

D&H, for its part, has noticed the need for an increase in available security products. In response, the Harrisburg, Pa.-based distributor recently penned a deal with Amsterdam-based security software vendor AVG to make its antivirus, threat detection and managed services tool set available for the distributor's SMB channel.

"Every MSP and VAR we've talked to is focused on security," Peter DiMarco, D&H's vice president of VAR sales told CRN "It's a big area of concern."