COVID-19 IMPACTInterviews

COVID-19 Impact: Leadership Teams Should Make Accommodations for Any Challenges That May Arise

Alain Penel, the Regional Vice President for Middle East at Fortinet, talks about the measures his company is taking to continue business without disruption, providing uninterrupted service to customers and more

During this COVID-19 crisis, what measures have you undertaken to continue your own business without disruption?
We’ve taken proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of our employees. These include implementing a company-wide remote worker policy, as well as many other cautionary steps. At Fortinet, we continue to closely monitor the situation and take additional actions to support updated best practices and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and international and local health authorities in countries where we operate.

In addition to ensuring our employees welfare, we are also doing our part to help the communities in which we live. We have started by significantly increasing our donation matching program. These funds are earmarked to support non-profit organizations fighting the effects of the COVID-19 virus.

What measures and initiatives have been taken to provide uninterrupted service to customers?
For our customers, the need to support a remote workforce has never been greater than it is today. We are committed to helping them quickly transition to an effective and secure teleworker strategy of their own without incremental costs. Our existing customers already have remote worker solutions embedded in their FortiGate firewalls that can be used at no additional charge.

The FortiClient VPN solution is also available free of charge to ensure remote workers have fast and secure network access. In addition, our technical teams are available to provide IT teams with additional support or resources they may need. We are also offering Fortinet’s NSE training program to provide essential cybersecurity knowledge free of charge online to partners and now customers.

Which top industry verticals and markets have you seen the maximum traction? How has COVID-19 impacted business with existing customers in those verticals and markets?
The global health crisis has affected every possible industry vertical. We are seeing an impact from a security point of view as businesses across verticals are making a rapid transition to a teleworker model to maintain business continuity. In this rush, things like security protocols can get overlooked, and criminals are looking to take advantage of any inadvertent security gaps.

Our FortiGuard Labs has been monitoring a significant spike in COVID-19 related threats and have seen an enormous spike in coronavirus-related scams – money scams, shared riding service scams, money transfer scams, credit card scams, and even scam kits designed for novice cybercriminals known as script kiddies.

Have you put in place any contingency plans if this crisis persists or gets escalated?
The public health crisis we face continues to be both dynamic and, in many ways, unprecedented. Global circumstances are in flux and cyber threats continue to increase, work flexibility and business resiliency have become critically important. This is why ensuring the safety and well-being of Fortinet employees, partners, and customers around the world and maintaining business continuity remain our top priorities at all time.

We will continue to take proactive measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 which include preventative sanitization measures at all Fortinet sites and social-distancing for those essential employees who must be on location to complete their duties.

Have you kick-started any initiatives for your employees to better handle this crisis?
Fortinet is committed to the wellbeing of our employees and it is our top priority.  We also understand many employees are balancing families and work, or perhaps family members that need extra care. All leadership teams have been instructed to help make accommodations for any challenges that may arise.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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