Business was hopping for Padgett Communications. The firm makes interactive audience response technology, and claims big-name clients such as Oprah Winfrey, Citibank, Microsoft, and the National Football League.
Used for game shows and corporate meetings, the technology lets companies gather data from audience members using wireless keypads to answer questions posed by a facilitator.
But as the Clearwater, Florida-based company grew, founder and president Todd Padgett became worried about all the worms and viruses that could potentially hit its expanding network and compromise confidential data.
"All of a sudden, you find yourself with this network that is wide open to god-knows-what might come down the line," recalls Padgett.
He decided it was time to get serious. The problem was that his small company of 25 employees does not have the resources to keep up with every new virus. In fact, the company does not have any IT staff at all. A managed security service appeared to be the best option and, after advice from an IT consultant, Padgett chose CISSR Technologies.
"They stay on top of what's happening. We're just not set up to do that," he says.
"These guys have their fingers on the pulse of the security world."
Now Padgett is free to deal with his core business and concentrate on more revenue-generating activities.
"I open up a newspaper and read about the security flaw or weakness de jour and think: 'That's something other people are worrying about'."
CISSR has a proprietary hardware platform that it uses to remotely manage and monitor Padgett Communications' network security at its secure operations center in nearby Tampa.
CISSR's ESM series of appliances, together with remote management, gives Padgett anti-virus protection and firewalls. The set-up also incorporates eEye Digital Security's Retina Enterprise Suite, which provides vulnerability assessment and automated patch management.
"It's more than just a piece of software or an appliance," says Charles Dodd, CISSR president and CTO, describing the solution. "It's the expertise of someone constantly looking at [the network]."
Padgett Communications' network is entirely Microsoft-based. It includes 22 PCs in the office and several laptops that employees use when they are on the road, which is often. eEye Digital's software agent is installed on laptops so they can still receive updates and be protected when they're out of the office.
Padgett says benefits were immediate. Reports from CISSR showed that the number of vulnerabilities in the firm's network quickly dropped from a high of nearly 300. Padgett has cut its IT costs by streamlining the patch-management process, he adds.
CISSR is careful when it comes to the patch process, says Dodd. It puts the patches through extensive testing before it releases them to customers, to avoid installing any that adversely affect a customer's environment. In the event that Microsoft releases a barrage of critical patches, and they pass CISSR's tests, the company alerts customers to leave their systems on overnight to receive updates.
Aside from security, the managed service has improved system performance, says Padgett. And even though Padgett Communications is a small company, security is still vitally important, he says.
"While we're not as large as some insurance and banking concerns, our data is every bit as important to us and our customers."