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Specifically Speaking with Ryan Schonfeld

Specifically Speaking with Ryan Schonfeld Founder and president of RAS Consulting & Investigations based in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

What's your role at the company?

As the founder and president of RAS Consulting & Investigations, I am in charge of day-to-day operations, overseeing new contracts and projects, working with existing clients to ensure we're continually adding value, and generally supporting the RAS team.

What kinds of systems do you design/specify and what services does the company provide?

RAS focuses on designing modern, technologically sound security systems and procedures that utilize best-practices, cyber security, and are designed with the company's culture in mind.

A key RAS service offering is that of an outsourced security director for companies without the benefit of an in-house team. This enables us to be a true partner to our clients and help continually improve their security footprint. Security is constantly evolving and we never want our clients to subscribe to the 'set it and forget it' model.

RAS is also a licensed investigations firm that works on employment cases, workplace violence/safety, fraud, due diligence and more.

What vertical markets does the company specialize in? Any interesting projects that you can mention?

RAS is industry agnostic and works with clients in education, entertainment, tech/startups, law, local government, logistics and more. Tech/startups are a focus for RAS due to their often rapid growth and need for sound policies and best-practices that keep the company and its employees safe.

How did you get started in security and designing/specifying?

While I was a police officer I saw how far behind the criminals we always were technologically, which led me to obtain my master's degree in IT. Subsequently, I was accepted as an instructor in identification and seizure of digital evidence for the US Dept. of State—training foreign, ally countries on the topic.

In my transition to the private sector, I managed investigations and then ran Global Security & Safety Technology for Fox. As an end-user, I found a significant gap in companies that understood current security technology, its impact on networks and cyber security, and how to truly use technology in conjunction with operations and procedures to run a cohesive security program. I founded RAS in 2014 to help close that gap.

Can you talk about what new or emerging technologies you are seeing or specifying today?

The answer varies a bit by industry, but one constant is a more unified approach to systems. More and more, our systems are providing value to departments outside of security and HR with analytics, heat mapping, people counting and more.

Several markets, including gaming, are looking for facial-recognition products, but a key common issue is outdated technology that either can't handle processing requirements, improperly placed cameras or resolution below the minimum requirements.

Another trend that is gaining wider acceptance is the SOC/GSOC in private industry. A key problem that we work with our clients on is implementing technologies in a SOC environment that improves efficiency and the ability to be proactive rather than reactive. Watching hundreds or thousands of live cameras (probably ineffectively) while responding to alarms, answering calls, performing analyses, and the many other tasks performed in an SOC can't be performed efficiently and cost-effectively without the right mix of technologies, training and procedures.

What is your view on the industry moving forward?

The role of IT and security will continue to merge over the coming years and security teams would be wise to embrace it. A security professional's expertise isn't diminished by working with an IT expert; likewise, most IT folks don't have our years of industry knowledge, training and experience. Work together and provide the best possible security to your clients, whether internal or external.

Many physical security products are not technologically secure. Executives are often shocked when told about the number of hacks and intrusions via secondary systems such as security, HVAC, building automation and more. There are great products in our industry made by manufacturers who take the cyber threat seriously. As industry professionals, we need to push the other companies to do the same. The minor cost difference by specifying an appropriate secure product is easily justified by helping your customer not be the next news story involving a large data breach or hack.

Good consultants are key! Obviously, I speak from a place of bias, but here's the logic: a good consultant should be deeply engrained with their customer and its decision makers. While we may push integrators and partners for lower margins and shorter project durations, our presence in the project helps make everyone look good. Imagine coming into a job where your time spent is all billable, where the scope and roles are clearly defined, where your sales cycle is shortened by virtue of the consultant already having obtained buy-in or approved budget prior to the RFP process.


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