Building Our Cybersecurity Dream Team

February 10, 2022
Daedalus Howell
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Basketball great Phil Jackson once observed “The strength of the team is each member. The strength of each member is the team.”

The adage is not only true on the basketball court, it’s also true when it comes to choosing cyber security partners when creating a comprehensive managed IT service. Over the past several months, Alternis IT has assembled its Dream Team, adding new partners, each representing a best-in-class solution for their particular discipline.

“Each of these partners solves a particular problem or addresses a specific challenge in the industry,” says Alternis IT founder and CEO Art Katch. 

Among the new partners are Threatlocker, a super granular application and storage control service, SentinelOne, a cybersecurity and ransomware prevention company, and Blackpoint (founded by former US Intelligence cyber operations) which provides real-time threat response and senior-level analysts and threat hunters.

The New Cybersecurity Paradigm

Alternis IT’s elevated offerings is predicated on a new framework for cybersecurity known simply as Zero Trust that the U.S. government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology defines simply as “Never Trust, Always Verify.”

Essentially, Zero Trust requires all users, both inside or outside of an organization’s network to be thoroughly vetted through authentication, authorization, and continuous validation of their security configuration prior to granting access to any aspect of the network.

“Nothing is trusted,” explains Katch. “Nothing is installed or done to the computers without their permission, or without having an analyst, actually reviewing it.” 

Many systems rely on a certain amount of automation driven by artificial intelligence, however, that too can be hacked, so vetting a potential partner, Katch always asks this key question: “Is there a human involved?”

“Can we pick up a phone and call and talk to someone? Is a human ultimately going to check after the artificial intelligence has scanned the system?” Katch asks, then adds “Is there a human who can go in and say, ‘Something still looks off, let me look at it.’ For example, at our Security Operation Center partner, there are real people actually behind a computer. They're connected to our next-generation antivirus system, SentinelOne. So they review every threat that comes in. Their Service Level Agreement is to respond to every single threat or alert within nine minutes — and often less.”

This hypervigilant approach to cybersecurity aligns with new, unprecedented needs in the marketplace. Due to the pandemic, more people are working from home and using accessing networks through a variety of personal devices — many of which are intrinsically vulnerable when it comes to cybersecurity.

“Once the pandemic happened and more people started working at home, we entered an unstable environment across the board,” says Katch. “When people are working from home, the most random things can happen that don’t happen in the business world. Non-commercial devices get plugged in that lack commercial-grade security and are easily bypassed by hackers, bringing vulnerability into a system.”

Concierge Cybersecurity Services for Managed IT

Another consideration for a new partner is whether or not their services are tailored toward Managed Service Security Providers (MSSPs) like Alternis IT.  

“We need that close partnership and close touch with our vendors. We need to be able to talk to somebody and have people answer our calls immediately,” says Katch. “If we have a positive experience our customers will have a positive experience.”

Katch also makes sure that the services on offer dovetail with those already in Alternis IT’s line up of offerings. 

“Do their tools combine with our tools? We provide anywhere between 7 to 13 vendor partnerships into a single customer bill,” says Katch. “Our customers are getting up to 18 services from up to 13 individual providers. We combine all those services into a single solution and we handle all those vendors for them. They don't have to talk to any of them. They don't have to do any support. They call us and we manage the relationship with each one.”

Katch’s goal is to make obtaining state-of-the-art cybersecurity services as simple as possible for his customers. “Instead of 13 vendors and 13 phone numbers, 13 charges on their credit cards, and all the additional IT expertise necessary to manage this level of service, we run it for them.”

Moreover, Katch puts an emphasis on transparency when it comes to Alternis IT’s partners. Instead of seeking white-labeled services to present as his own brand, he leans into the 

“I provide all of our partner names so that customers can research them,” says Katch who ensures that they're all specialized, industry-leaders in their respective sectors. 

“We've tested each one of their systems, all the way from the start — from onboarding all the way through to support tickets. Only those that stand out and offer the highest level of service will become our next partner,” says Katch. “We're not buying into their marketing. We're not buying into their website or anything. We look at them in action.”

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