Airtel takes aim at India’s fast-growing cyber security market

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Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel is looking to tap into the country’s fast-growing cyber security market with the help of its newly launched “Security Intelligence Center”, as well as partnerships with global cyber security vendors like Cisco, VMware, Raware and Force Point.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco said that it has launched its Airtel Secure portfolio of cyber security services enabled by its latest center, set up with an investment of Rs 100 crore ($13.51 million).

Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India and South Asia) at Bharti Airtel, said that cyber security is a critical requirement of enterprises in India.

“At Airtel, we constantly ask our customers what more we can do to help them in their digital transformation journeys. Through these conversations, we have heard that cyber security is a critical requirement,” he said at a virtual briefing.

As businesses shift processes to cloud and digital platforms to serve their customers better, they also face increasing incidents of sophisticated cyber attacks that have the potential to severely disrupt operations, Airtel said in a statement.

The telecom operator has onboarded 25 large and medium enterprise customers for its security services. Several companies, including Flipkart, Havell’s, Fidelity India and R-Systems, are already using services from Airtel Secure, the company’s security service portfolio.

Airtel said it serves over 1 million businesses in India with its integrated solutions and is the largest player in the enterprise connectivity space.

Vittal on Wednesday told the media that the company expects to add more across large, medium and small enterprises.

“Security is a strategic issue for companies,” Vittal said, adding that the company will use its wide telecom network in the country to provide bundled security services and products.

India, which is now the world’s second largest internet market, ranks fifth globally when it comes to incidents of cyber attacks and fraud.

Citing a NASSCOM study, Airtel said that India’s cyber security market will reach $13-15 billion in the next five years, from $4-5 billion now. “It is a large and growing market…Most of our enterprise customers are grappling with how the new architecture is taking place.”

Under the partnership, Airtel and Cisco will jointly bring to market a wide range of security solutions that secure networks, endpoints, applications and the cloud. 

“Airtel will now be able to help customers streamline operations with integrated threat and security management through Cisco’s security portfolio. Delivered as managed security services (MSS), these offerings will benefit Airtel’s enterprise as well as small business customers, allowing customers to reduce their technology-capex investment and maximize efficiency,”, Cisco president and CEO Chuck Robbins said in a joint statement.

Radware’s partnership with Airtel is strategic in nature. Under the partnership, the company is setting up India’s global data scrubbing center which is hosted by Airtel data center arm in Chennai in India.

The center, Airtel said, will ensure threats to data and information are attacked and eliminated at the source.

On vendor tie-ups, Harmeen Mehta, CIO and head of cloud and security business, said that Airtel will bring more partners onboard to further expand its offerings in India.

She also said that some of the current partnerships are exclusive in nature. “Certain products and solutions by vendors will be exclusive to Airtel while rest solutions and services will be common and they can offer through other players.”

Airtel revealed that the telco is seeing an increased DDoS attacks on businesses in India. Mehta said that the company’s security intelligence center is running on high alert for almost six months.

“In the last few months, we have seen an unprecedented amount of cyber-attacks on organizations not only on critical infrastructure but also on all kinds of employees of various applications and various companies,” Mehta said.

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