NCA's Tom Gobeille on Security, Industry Trends and Marketing Needs

Rob Savette, Ethofy’s VP of sales and marketing, guest blogs today and delves into the world of cybercrime with Network Computing Architects.

I’ve known Thomas (Tom) Gobeille for a while now – he’s the president and CEO of Network Computing Architects (NCA). Based in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, NCA is one of the top security consulting firms in the industry, and they recently deployed Kurryer among their sales force. 

Tom is a recognized thought leader in the IT world, and has a bird’s eye view into information security and other leading edge technologies. For this interview, Tom agreed to answer a few questions about the current threat landscape regarding cybercrime and what every business should consider. He also discussed some of the upcoming trends he sees among NCA’s own extensive partner network.

Rob: Are you seeing any new issues or trends emerging among your customers?

Tom: A number of issues are becoming even more significant due to the rise in cybercrime and the sophistication of cybercrime. All industries have a pressing need to protect information and people’s privacy. Healthcare, for example, often makes the news because they must deal with the HIPAA regulatory compliance issues such as protecting electronic medical records and social security numbers. We’ve seen increased risk with anyone taking credit cards or storing credit card numbers. Other industries have critical assets around products, such as software source code and trade secrets, as well as patents and valuable information. These things make you a target more often than not.

Businesses must now operate under the assumption of a breach, not just the possibility. Either they are victims now – which is why they're speaking to NCA – or they don’t know they've already been victimized. Today, companies and enterprises are looking at moving to cloud providers to store their data to help reduce risks, while reducing the quantity of information in-house that is potentially vulnerable to cybercrime. This introduces a new set of dangers and risks to any enterprise.

Rob: What shifts do you see ahead for NCA’s vendor partners in 2014?

Tom: We’re seeing our vendors begin to talk more about products from a solutions perspective and how solutions can solve business problems. There’s less emphasis on features and more about how a product can actually help a business achieve goals or protect their critical informational assets.

Customers are asking, “What’s the ROI?” and “How can we measure success or value?” The emphasis continues to be on how solutions can make a business more profitable and more secure by simplifying approaches to traditional problems.

Rob: What’s the impact of some of the new trends or initiatives?

Tom:  A major shift is leaning toward managed services by outsourcing IT to a third party 24/7, such as NCA. Businesses don’t have the luxury of headcount or personnel to dedicate to IT; the days of large in-house IT department are numbered. It’s impossible for one or two people to master the level of expertise required to keep up with the changes in technology going on today.

Currently, there’s a big movement to managed services and outsourced IT. Working with a third party that has access to your company’s data is less costly and much more efficient and secure. By moving to outsourced IT, companies can focus more on their core business. We’ve already seen a trend of outsourcing areas such as human resources, payroll, etc. I believe that over time with the advent of mobility, companies will not have internal IT staff. They will have mobile tools that work securely anywhere and that are supported by a third party.

The model is simply having convenient tools. People just want to access applications and workers don't care where the applications come from. The automation of outsourcing is too efficient to be ignored by businesses looking forward.

Rob: You’re in the unique position to see the interactions between the vendor and the customer. From your viewpoint, what problems do customers have that vendors aren’t addressing?

Tom: Few vendors can successfully articulate the benefits of moving to cloud-based solutions, which offer greater security. There’s also a challenge with helping customers understand why they need change now. Cloud-based solutions can be highly-functional, but vendors miss the mark on telling a complete story. Look at what’s happening today: The value of solutions is not clearly expressed by anyone.

Another pressing issue we are seeing is due to the rapid deployment of tablets and mobile devices. There is not a strong, recognized solution for securing mobility yet. Organizations run serious risks if their teams are accessing critical, highly-sensitive information on their devices. Think medical records, information that can affect share prices, confidential and privileged advice, etc.  Adoption of mobility is ahead of the technical controls available to insure your safety.

Inherently, mobility puts you in an opportunity to be compromised if you are accessing sensitive information. Vendors are working to catch up to secure mobile devices, yet are not articulating the issue and risks well.

Rob: You've rolled out Kurryer as your sales enablement tool at NCA. Do you feel it's possible to remain competitive without the use of state-of-the-art tools?

Tom: As months – not years – go by, it’s more important than ever to have a social media and mobile engagement strategy for your business. Being able to clearly define and offer access to information – and supply it to clients at the right time – is more important than ever before.  The next generation workforce expects this.

We’ve found there are often unexpected benefits of adopting new tools. For example, we deployed Kurryer quickly among our sales force, and saw that it can improve interaction between teams. Now, our engineers and technical teams use it to share information. These interactions around specific market needs have led to stronger collaboration among work groups.

Rob: If you could snap your fingers and have a new product magically appear to sell, what would it be?

Tom: There’s a desperate need for products that manage security for mobile tools – anything light or hand-held. What is missing is a complete and affordable solution that’s not highly complex.

Criminals share their secrets. Yet in the corporate world, companies protect their secrets and solutions at the expense of progress. This is a situation where sharing experience between companies could lead to a mutually beneficial solutions.

Let’s face it, most people have a nervous addiction to check their tablets or phones. These mobile devices may not be secure – and organizations are running huge risks depending on the exchange of sensitive information on mobile devices. It’s an opening for cybercrime that many companies haven’t seriously considered.

With the recent news buzz you just never know who is reading our e-mail, listening to our conversations or compromising our personal and professional data.