There have been few technology trends or stories that defined this past year as the proliferation of cybersecurity breaches and ransomware attacks. This year began with a massive cyberattack against SolarWinds that threatened a large number of large enterprises, including as many as ten federal government agencies. And as the year continued, organizations that manage or own important parts of our nation’s critical infrastructure – including fuel pipelines and meat processing plants – also fell victim to successful ransomware attacks.
In this environment – one where adversaries are growing in number, attacks are growing in frequency, and threats are increasingly sophisticated – organizations across the public and private sector are looking for partners to help keep their networks and data safe. This has created incredible demand for cybersecurity solutions and services, and created a massive opportunity for innovative cybersecurity companies to grow.
This environment has fueled the need for security consultants like GuidePoint Security. The company’s ability to help government agencies and private enterprises meet their cyber requirements and overcome their network security challenges catapulted them to incredible heights in the past year. In fact, their growth was so impressive, that they were nominated for a 2021 Corporate Growth Award.
We recently sat down with Michael Volk, the Managing Partner and Founder of GuidePoint Security, to talk about the current trends in cybersecurity, and the strategic decisions and investments that have led to the company’s meteoric growth.
Here is what he had to say:
Corporate Growth, Capital Style (CGCS): Can you tell our readers a bit about GuidePoint Security? What services and solutions does the company offer? What industries and markets does it serve?
Michael Volk: We founded GuidePoint Security in 2011 to address the wide-ranging cybersecurity challenges facing enterprise and government organizations. Our goal from day one has been laser-focused on providing cybersecurity solutions and expertise to help our customers minimize their risk.
We have offices around the U.S. and serve all commercial industries as well as the U.S. federal and state governments. Our business model enables us to differentiate from other solution providers by being able to provide very personalized, local touch and support, with a national scale. Our customers are always a maximum of two steps removed from ownership, yet they have access to a wider team of highly-certified practitioners whose expertise crosses different cybersecurity technologies and disciplines. When a customer engages with GuidePoint Security, they benefit from a single engagement team model, where the solutions development and delivery teams are tightly intertwined.
From our cybersecurity technology acquisition to services offerings, our solutions are tailored specifically to the customer’s unique business and complex challenges. Our security practitioners leverage deep expertise across every discipline of cybersecurity to assess an organization’s risk, align and optimize resources, and make best-fit security technology recommendations based on a rigorous vetting process.
“With the recent Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, federal agencies must re-evaluate their environments and budgets to modernize their cybersecurity in line with the new direction.” – Michael Volk
We believe that our cyber domain expertise, access and buying power for leading and emerging security technologies, and our overall approach provides customers with great value.
CGCS: Cybersecurity is currently a hot topic for the federal government. What are some of the most prevalent IT and cybersecurity threats that federal government agencies are currently facing? And what services and solutions are they seeking out most?
Michael Volk: The federal government is constantly challenged by nation-state actors trying to steal classified information and wreak havoc on our systems. State-sponsored cyber terrorism and supply chain threats are top of mind for the federal government.
With the recent Executive Order (EO) on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, federal agencies must re-evaluate their environments and budgets to modernize their cybersecurity in line with the new direction. Identity and access management, cloud security, Zero Trust and security analytics are just some of the areas that agencies are looking to implement and enhance.
CGCS: Has GuidePoint Security been assisting federal agencies in implementing the EO’s guidance on modernizing their digital infrastructures? If so, what are some of the challenges agencies have been facing? And how are they overcoming them?
Michael Volk: Yes, GuidePoint Security has deep engagement with many federal agencies, helping them understand which aspects of the EO can be acted on now and which require more defined guidance.
While the EO is well intentioned and the guidance within it can certainly help agencies make their networks more secure, agencies are facing some challenges when it comes to meeting the EO directives. They need more specific directives for certain parts of the EO. They need to build out robust plans that address each component of the EO. They also need to go through the arduous budgeting process to then acquire and implement the right solutions and architectures – all within the outlined timeframes.
GuidePoint can assist agencies leverage Office of Management and Budget (OMB) authorized alternative sources of funding, such as the IMF and DHS CDM programs. We also have expertise to help agencies for example, adopt a Zero Trust architecture. This is a massive shift that needs to be done in phases over time in order to actually implement. This isn’t plug and play.
“Zero Trust is becoming top of mind across both federal and commercial organizations. It’s a complete shift in mindset both in terms of moving from compliance to operational security as well as the overall architecture of the environment.” – Michael Volk
Additionally, more specific direction and guidance is just coming out now from the OMB and from CISA. We are actively helping agencies look at how to better operationalize their cybersecurity, shift their mindset from compliance to security, putting more focus on supply chain and software security, securing cloud environments, and of course adopting a Zero Trust architecture.
CGCS: Is Zero Trust the way of the future for cybersecurity? What makes Zero Trust different from the way the federal government previously approached cybersecurity? Has GuidePoint Security seen their government clients make the move towards Zero Trust?
Michael Volk: Zero Trust is becoming top of mind across both federal and commercial organizations. It’s a complete shift in mindset both in terms of moving from compliance to operational security as well as the overall architecture of the environment. The network boundary is no more – identity is the new perimeter.
The goal is to extend cybersecurity beyond the traditional network boundary and to understand the increased risk due to an environment that has more users at home, but also in hybrid situations.
A Zero Trust Architecture will help drive organizations to identify high value assets and data within the network and protect this information beyond traditional cybersecurity methods. Moving to Zero Trust is a journey and one that must be thoughtfully planned out and executed in components – both from a logistical and from a budgeting perspective.
CGCS: GuidePoint Security was a finalist for a Growth Company Award at the 2021 Corporate Growth Awards. To what do you attribute the company’s growth? Has this growth been mostly organic growth, or has the company also grown through strategic acquisitions?
Michael Volk: We can point to multiple strategic decisions and investments that the company has made that are responsible for driving our continuous growth. But a large factor is the current high demand for cybersecurity expertise and tools.
“GuidePoint Security has also invested in the organization in major growth areas, such as Identity and Access Management, Zero Trust, Cloud Security, and other high-demand solutions and services, and we are reaping the benefits of this investment.” – Michael Volk
The need for cybersecurity skills and solutions has never been greater across the public and private sector, and GuidePoint Security is primed to be that trusted advisor for our customers because of our breadth and depth of technical expertise and our focus on building long-term relationships.
For example, out of our 500 employees, more than 50 percent are technical, that is a huge repository of knowledge, experience and know how that can be brought to bear and support our customers. These cybersecurity professionals are empowered to be innovative in helping customers solve complex challenges.
GuidePoint Security has also invested in the organization in major growth areas, such as Identity and Access Management, Zero Trust, Cloud Security, and other high-demand solutions and services, and we are reaping the benefits of this investment.
We have also continued our physical expansion into the Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas (TOLA) region, as well as the Southwest. This now gives us feet on the ground and local ownership in approximately 75 percent of the nation. We expect to complete the national coverage within the next 12 months and bring our stated Vision since 2011 of becoming the nation’s premier cybersecurity solution provider to fruition.
“We work hard to understand our customers’ businesses, environments, needs and goals and foster a deep relationship to ensure we can make the most sensible recommendations that also align with their budgets and timelines.” – Michael Volk
Finally, we are not your typical VAR that pushes boxes or licenses and moves on. We work hard to understand our customers’ businesses, environments, needs and goals and foster a deep relationship to ensure we can make the most sensible recommendations that also align with their budgets and timelines. This approach has led to increased activity and engagement with our customers each year since our inception.
CGCS: What’s next for GuidePoint Security? What opportunities is the company pursuing for 2021/22? What government trends or strategic deals will perpetuate the company’s continued growth in the coming years?
Michael Volk: As mentioned before, completing our goal of national coverage is first and foremost. We expect to be fully operational in the last remaining open region – the Northwest – within the next 12 months.
Additional expansion of our existing service lines is anticipated to continue both in terms of breadth and depth of offerings. Finally, inorganic expansion will continue to be evaluated as well.