The Dunbar armored car company is a titan of the trust industry. Family-owned for ninety years, Dunbar is best known for protecting and transporting cash in reinforced, guarded trucks.
But what can Dunbar do for us in a world where we’re just as worried about bad guys foiling our firewalls and hijacking our data?
I asked Chris Ensey, COO of Dunbar Digital Armor, that very question.
“Our primary directive here, in whatever we do, is to retain the integrity of the brand,” Chris told me at the Dunbar home office in Hunt Valley, MD. The decision to move into cyber was the brainchild of CEO Kevin Dunbar, an entrepreneurial chief executive whose family has spent generations working to make the family name synonymous with security.
A few years back, Kevin realized that the marketplace lacked an end-to-end risk management company that could help customers move confidently toward their overall security goals. It made sense for a longstanding brand like Dunbar to leverage its status and reach to roll out that kind of robust, integrated model, with Dunbar Digital Armor as the featured connecting piece.
Guards who check ID are just like password prompts, and alarm monitoring and network monitoring both alert owners to breaches. Online or offline, risk is always there, and you have to deal with it. Chris could see the upshot of those analogies clearly because he’s spent most of his life—not just his career—working to understand IT and how to use it to solve other people’s problems. He knows how to guide the perplexed and get down to finding solutions.
Technology is a family affair for the Ensey clan, just as security is for the Dunbars. Chris’s grandfather was a physicist at Johns Hopkins, bringing Chris along to the Navy Yard in Annapolis where he worked in acoustics. The enthusiasm the two shared led them to enroll in a programming class at Anne Arundel Community College, where they were the oldest and youngest students, respectively.
As a teenager Chris literally worked to get his foot in the door of the IT world, since he started out painting curbs outside the offices of AAI Corporation. He was persistent enough to get a shot at a help desk job inside, and in that customer-facing role he learned that IT could solve problems best when users are respected and engaged.
Chris got his undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech, and while he was in Blacksburg he picked up internships, co-working experiences, and practical business and engineering lessons. In his early career, Chris gained familiarity with development, testing, quality assurance, and support. He credits his exposure to all parts of the process with driving his leadership approach at Dunbar Digital Armor.
By the time he got to IBM in a sales role, he already knew how to be agile and resourceful enough to run a small shop. So when things moved too slowly at the computing giant, he found ways to apply his previous experience. He built high-quality internal and external networks that included many subject matter experts who would have been off the radar of most of his counterparts. He defined himself by connecting parts of the company and making them communicate effectively–he became the guy who got things done, and in a few years he moved from sales to running security strategy for the company’s federal division.
Chris highlights a key part of that experience, where he dealt with a niche security product that IBM had acquired but wasn’t sure how to deploy. He realized that the product should be part of a larger strategy, so he pulled in constituents and software from other parts of the company to put the acquired technology in context.
Chris reaped the benefits of the networks he helped connect, but above all, the customer benefitted from integrated packages that got the job done and made sense. He’s taking the same approach at Dunbar, synthesizing best-of-breed tools for comprehensive, tailored client solutions, whether creating whole strategy or filling a particular need. “We’ve done a lot to drive the complexity out of applying those solutions to the customer,” he points out.
“In my mind, the technology really is kind of window dressing,” Chris concludes. “The process you apply to it, and recognition of customers’ needs—that’s everything.”
Make it a board room conversation. If it isn’t already, add it to the agenda. If it is, are you just talking about compliance or IT spend? Consider cyber security as a cross-organizational, business-wide objective.
- Put a target on your own back. Most businesses do not consider themselves at risk. I often hear the words, “I don’t have anything of interest to hackers”, or “Luckily we don’t have any sensitive data”, following a conversation about the latest breach to hit the news. Yet more and more businesses are disrupted by malware, loss of data, and financial fraud.
- Create a culture of accountability. Leading from the top is the only way to make sweeping improvements in risk posture. Promote security through the organization in all aspects of the business. In any business, transparency and communication regarding risk is criticall.
- Collaborate with your peers. Not enough companies share information about cyber security related issues today. Work with others inside and outside your field to improve your corporate understanding of cyber security.
- Ignore the noise and take action. Cyber security is a scorching hot industry right now with thousands of products, many of which over promise and under deliver. Consult a professional that specializes in security and risk management to help guide you through the process.