Safety check Featured

8:45am EDT July 11, 2003
Debbie Billings, president of Streetsboro-based Delta Systems, a manufacturer of electronic controls and switches, knew she needed to call in outside help to determine how secure the company's information systems were.

"My business is to know our lines, our customers and our vendors," says Billings. "It is not my business to be a software or security expert. I can't bring in new staff full time just to deal with those issues."

So Billings started searching for a company to assess Delta's vulnerability.

"We had just gone through and upgraded our computer systems," says Billings. "From a technical standpoint, I was pretty pleased with the information we were getting, but one of the areas I read and learned more about was the importance of knowing our information was safe from viruses or someone getting into our system and destroying information.

"Learning how vulnerable we were was my concern. I needed to know if it was possible to hurt Delta through our information systems."

Billings chose VigilantMinds, a firm that specializes in network security.

"We did an interview with them and they explained the process," says Billings. "After meeting with me, they met with my staff from the I.S. department. After the meetings, it was apparent they were extremely knowledgeable.

"They came in and spent three days here doing assessments. They basically tried to hack our system and discover areas of vulnerabilities. Two weeks later, they presented us with an impressive report. It showed where our problems were and what needed to be done. I was pleased that 90 percent of the problems could be handled internally.

"My fear was I would get a report that would show all the problems and that (VigilantMinds) would be the only ones who could fix it. But they've been very helpful in giving us guidance about how to fix the problems. There were no significant areas to be concerned about."

Like many companies, Delta Systems proved to be fairly secure from external breaches but was more vulnerable from internal ones.

"The things internally were things like making sure certain information was secure from other departments," says Billings. "Some of those types of things surprised me that they weren't secure, while other areas surprised me that they were extremely secure."

Once the report was made, Delta's I.S. staff put together a list of recommendations outlining suggested solutions and pinpointing which could be handled in-house and which would require additional assistance from VigilantMinds.

"We have completed the ones that put us at the most risk and have a plan in place to finish up the rest," says Billings.

Although the test didn't reveal any major security issues, Billings says it's important to be wary.

"I think at the speed technology is improving today, I would just be negligent if I don't come back in a couple years and test our systems again," says Billings. "We were only testing the capabilities that are out there today. If I don't do something to test our security in two years, then shame on me.

"My only advice to other businesses is don't just think about it, do something about it. Things happen where you aren't looking." How to reach: Delta Systems, (330) 626-2811; VigilantMinds, (216) 937-5151