Why knowledge in IT has become more essential for integrators

Why knowledge in IT has become more essential for integrators

Today’s security devices have become more network-centric. When all connected, they in essence form an “Internet of security things,” delivering greater safety, efficiency, and experience for the end user. Against this backdrop, security systems integrators must develop strong IT capability and understand more about network security to be able to deliver solutions that their clients truly need.

During an SIA Education seminar at ISC West 2016 titled “Integrators Meeting the Challenge,” views on how integrators should operate in the new networked era were shared by the following speakers: Ray Coulombe, Managing Director at SecuritySpecifiers; Andrew Lanning, CEO of Integrated Security Technologies; Joseph Lynch, CEO of Minuteman Security Technologies; and Brent Franklin, President of Unlimited Technology.

One speaker emphasized the importance of SIs equipping themselves with IT knowledge. In the case of a company focused on systems integration, it’s also vital to obtain people with such knowledge.

“In our case we have network engineers who are very specialized and very good at what they’re doing,” he said. “We have software developers who deal with a lot of enterprise customers, helping them with their software integration. Even within software we have Java Script software people vs. SQL database guys that are very good at managing databases.”

“Our issues are to make sure our technical staff is educated enough. We’ve got specialists within our organization that are Cisco-certified engineers and technicians. We have to have those people to bring to the meetings to start those discussions with the end user’s IT department on how our application can run on your networks,” said another speaker at the seminar.

If the SI does not have the necessary IT skills, there are ways to get around that. “If you don't have the staff, you don't understand all that cyber stuff … talk to other integrators and find out what they are doing. Educate yourselves,” said a speaker at the ISC West seminar.

Another speaker put it this way:

“One of the things we saw early on was, if you feel like you are going to get in trouble with that customer, find an IT company that's local to you, and partner with them – even if you have to pay them whatever dollars an hour. Have them walk in as your partner or as your company.” 

Understanding Cybersecurity

As devices reside on the network, their vulnerability to hacking and intrusion becomes a serious issue. Worse, most end users look at these threats lightly, as a recent IPVM study surveying SIs found that nearly 50 percent of their customers placed a low priority on cybersecurity.

Against this backdrop, the SI has a responsibility to make sure that their clients’ systems are secure against cyberattacks. Choosing products that have a good track record on network security is a good start. According to some integrators, it’s surprising how many products out there are poor in terms of countering cyberattacks.

“We started to look at certain products and they all fail. Most of them still fail. I was stunned by that. They can't be secure. If you got soft equipment inside, you got a problem, and a lot of equipment in our industry is marsh-mellow soft. It's easy to hack, and the tools to break it are readily available,” said a speaker at the ISC West seminar.

“You definitely want to use manufacturers that have a history of fixing their problems, that have a known way to track those problems. We want to see their third-party audits so we can understand the track record these companies had,” said another speaker. “Find out what certifications these manufacturers have. What's their partnership with Microsoft, Cisco, and all that. You can usually find them on their website, and if they got nothing there, and they got some certification that’s unheard of, keep on moving.”

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