SafeGuard Cyber VP of Strategic Partnerships Karen Kukoda and Optiv’s Chief Technology Officer, Todd Weber, joined Cybercrime Magazine to talk about SafeGuard Cyber’s Illuminate Partner Program and how cybersecurity partnerships are important in securing social media and collaboration tools. 

Below is a recap of the highlights from the discussion.


Introducing the Illuminate Partner Program

After a ton of preparation and planning, SafeGuard Cyber launched its Illuminate Partner Program in 2021. The program strategically aligns companies toward a common goal: to prevent digital risks and secure human connections. 

SafeGuard Cyber’s network of partners delivers solutions, intelligence, services, and security expertise required to combat today’s advanced digital threats and risks. “At Illuminate, we try to make our program very simplistic and very easy for our partners to take advantage of,” Karen reveals.

“We’ve got people that have built out a channel, who understand the importance of how to work closely with partners, and are ready to roll up their sleeves and get creative in designing and creating a world-class program for our partners that’s margin-rich, along with some great training platforms, as well,” Karen adds.

The Importance of Cybersecurity Partnerships

When asked about the significance of cybersecurity partnerships, Todd believes they are a foundational component, whether with clients, technology providers, or other service partners.

“Foundationally, everything is built upon trust,” Todd explains. “Our businesses, our technologies... even our clients trust us to tell them about the cybersecurity landscape. As we’ve seen in cyber, there’s a huge landscape of technology companies. And with thousands more actually coming out, the amount of money being thrown at this from venture capital and private equity is unparalleled in many cases.”

As all these new technologies and companies get created, foundationally, companies need to have that same level of trust with their clients and partners. 

“There is no one perfect solution in cybersecurity today,” Karen adds, “so it’s really incumbent for us to create an ecosystem of partnerships.” 

These partnerships, Karen adds, need to help customers identify threats, gain visibility into those threats, create services that help remove those threats, and, lastly, deploy the right solutions in place through a layered approach to security. “Partners are a really important piece to a holistic security strategy,” she ends.

Illuminate’s Three Partner Types

Karen explains that the Illuminate Partner Program focuses on three partner types: strategic, reseller, and referral-based partnerships.

For strategic partners, SafeGuard Cyber integrates with platforms like CrowdStrike and Seismic to create more value, with thought leadership and joint go-to-market activities. “We take the information we learn from that combination and create unique threat intelligence that is used in the industry,” said Karen.

“We also have a great set of reseller partners,” she adds. “One of the facets that I think is very important for reseller partners is creating a simple way that we work together, with margin-rich environments so we can both create joint revenue from the ‘Better Together’ story and the right infrastructure to support the teams.”

Lastly, Illuminate has referral-based cybersecurity partnerships, as well. “We are fortunate to have a few cyber-insurance companies that we work closely with,” Karen explains. “We’ve combined the cyber-insurance marketplace to help identify and mitigate risks and to help ultimately create better protection levels for those types of customers, so they can get unique terms and conditions for their cyber policy.”

Deploying Cybersecurity Controls

Todd also addresses in the interview how important it is for cybersecurity partnerships to understand why companies need to secure their collaboration and communication tools and social media accounts.

“As we all moved into different ways of working, and different ways of consuming [information], we had to get creative on how to make things work,” Todd points out. An example was telehealth and telemedicine, which, for many hospitals and medical institutions, was considered a future adoption but was now forced upon them because of the sudden onset of the pandemic. Todd emphasizes that these vectors, these tools that companies worldwide have adopted, need security protocols in place.

“I remember when people started bringing iPads to work,” Todd reminisces, “and the security teams back then had the actual power to say, ‘No, you will not bring iPads into work.’ We don’t have that power anymore.”

People can now bring whatever devices they choose and use a lot of different applications to communicate with each other and with their clients, and this phenomenon has been exacerbated through COVID.

“I just don’t see those changing anytime soon,” Todd said, “so it’s become extremely important to put priority structures on all these vectors that we’ve opened that weren’t there 5 or 6 years ago.” 

There’s a lot more that Karen and Todd talked about during this interview. If you’d like to learn more about:

  • How securing collaboration and communication tools can be a large market opportunity;
  • What challenges does Optiv face and solve for their clients; and,
  • How launching a partner program like Illuminate became possible, even during a pandemic.