'20 under 40' integrators panel

Integrators talk cybersecurity, working with IT departments
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—Cybersecurity, working with IT and the rewards of working in the security industry were topics touched on during the “20 under 40” Integrators’ Perspective educational session at TechSec 2015, which took place here Feb. 3-4.

Four members of the “20 under 40” integrators Class of 2014 participated in the discussion: Sarah Jennings, COO, QuickPass; David Sime, VP of engineering and delivery, CONTAVA; Jim Lash, director of advanced IT installation, Diebold; and, Sharon Shaw, client development manager, Tech Systems.

Among the top challenges faced by integrators today is cyber security threats. “It’s our world as a software company,” said Jennings. “It’s a very serious matter and we work on it daily.”

The problem is that “there are just so many different approaches,” Sime said. “You have to have an IT culture that understands and integrators that understand the threat. Manufacturers [also] need to understand,” he said.

What about getting a customer’s security director and IT department to work together? It’s an ongoing challenge, the panelists said.

Sime said that without such collaboration “customers can get backed into a corner with the wrong technology if IT is not involved.”

And the integrator needs to have people on staff who can “talk the talk with the IT person at the customer site,” Shaw pointed out.

Lash said it is “absolutely the integrator’s responsibility to be that team in the middle” that makes sure that conversation happens … “so that the end users can get what they want.” His colleagues are well equipped to facilitating those discussions because is  “my team has a heavy IT background,” he said.

It’s vital to have these discussions early in the planning phase, he noted. “Come late to the game makes it much more difficult.”

Asked about technologies they’re interested in, the panelists had varied responses. Sime said “thermal imaging, health monitoring of equipment, services and storage; the opportunity to “play with analytics as it matures.”

Shaw said Tech Systems is having success with analytics these days and that “biometrics seem to be more reliable than they used to be for access control.”

Lash expressed an interest in health checking of systems and “overall PSIM applications.”

Jennings said her company is “exploring NFC.” She said she’d like to consider using biometrics and finger scanning for access, “but NFC is cool because you can use your phone, [and that’s very convenient] especially with gate access.”  

The four panelists are all enthusiastic about working in the security industry. Shaw, who recently became a CPP, enjoys learning about security. “It doesn’t feel like a chore to learn more about it.”

Jennings added that she “grew up in a company [Safeguard in Scottsdale, Ariz.] that installed alarm and fire systems. We all have an opportunity to grow in this industry, to embrace new technology. Every day is fun.”

Lash and Sime both came to security from IT. Lash says he likes going to manufacturers training “and pushing them a little bit, busting their chops a bit.” He also likes to introduce his friends who work in IT to security, “showing them what we do, what kinds of systems we put in.”

Sime called security “the coolest profession.” He and his company are actively working to spread the word and help young people get prepared for a career in security “working with local colleges and lobbying technical colleges to put together a security certificate program.”