Jeff Burgess’ career has spanned nearly 40 years in various segments of the computer industry, getting his start as a company shipper and working his way up to Vice President of Sales seven years later, within that same organisation. He founded Burgess Computer Decisions, Inc., (BCD) in 1999, building high-availability servers for Fortune 500 companies. Burgess has been married for 33 years to Joanne, and has three children, one daughter-in-law, and two dogs.

How did you come to work in the security industry?

A fluke chance meeting in early 2008 led to the inception of BCDVideo via a customer-generated issue at a local GE site introduced me to the security industry. Another case of “good service wins the day”.  We had already been established as an organisation trained to provide high-availability servers and even higher-availability customer service to Fortune 500 accounts. We simply flipped that model to the security integrators and it was, frankly, nothing they had ever seen before.

What is the best professional advice you have received?

First get the deal, then worry about it”. I learned that from Judson Beamsley, then President of Tek-Aids Industries, the company I started with as a shipper. He had just won (from Illinois) a multi-million three-year State of Texas contract on product he did not sell. When questioned on not carrying the product, he replied “we will now!” Sure enough, that manufacturer beat a path to our door. It’s never failed me since.

Quick Facts
Favourite album Close to the Edge, Yes
First job
Warehouse/shipper at 16 for my Dad’s paper company
Sweet or savoury Spicy!
Favourite film Animal House
Dogs or cats Dogs

What's something few people know about you?

I met my best friend, Gary, in high school detention during sophomore year. Eleven years later, he fixed me up with my now-wife on a blind date that neither one of us wanted to go on. Joanne was his fiancé Monique’s sorority sister. We were engaged in six weeks and married in six months. 45 years later, the four of us are still best friends, and live three miles apart. Best (and only!) Roman candle I ever set off down a school hallway!!!

What's the most rewarding thing about what you do for a living?

At this point in my career, the ability to mentor young people within my company is one of my greatest rewards.  We work with a local organisation which supports first generation and under-served college-bound students. We sponsor a number of these students as paid interns. Also within my company, we strongly encourage opportunities for both personal and professional growth and development. If no one had given me the opportunity, where would I be?

Jeff Burgess of BCDVideo enjoys cooking in his time away from the security industry
Jeff Burgess particularly enjoys grilling and barbecuing - and appreciates spicy food

What are your interests, hobbies and passions outside security?

My passion is my wife and our family. I enjoy being with them and we have a special bond. My wife and I play golf and travel the world together, enjoy good food and friends. Or just stay home together.

As for hobbies or interests, I really enjoy grilling and barbecuing (there IS a difference). I spent three years in Austin, Texas in the early ‘80’s and was tutored in this fine art. I have a beef brisket published at a spice house website, whose rub I use.

Where was your last vacation?

Our last vacation was Budapest, Berlin, and Copenhagen. I wrapped work meetings around the first and last stop, and had a wonderful work-free weekend in Berlin. We loved all of these new experiences. That tends to be the norm when we travel.

But more excited about our next vacation. Taking a Barcelona-to-Barcelona cruise in mid-July. Never have cruised before and never have totally shut work off for two weeks. Doing both. Joanne has always wanted to cruise and deserves my time after 20 years sharing me with the company - she’s getting both.

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Enhance traditional security systems within your smart home
Enhance traditional security systems within your smart home

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In response, many security system providers now offer IP cameras as optional enhancements for their systems. Smart home devices and features, while posing a threat to some security companies, are a potential way forward to increased market growth. Security dealers have an opportunity to become more than a security provider but a smart home solutions provider rooted in safety. Provide status updates Comcast has entered both the professionally monitored security market and the market for smart home services The alternative is to position as a provider of basic security with low price as the key differentiator. Comcast has entered both the professionally monitored security market and the market for smart home services independent of security. It has discovered that monetising smart home value propositions through recurring revenue becomes increasingly challenging as the value extends further away from life safety. 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The ongoing challenge of IT and data risk management
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Managing IT and data risk is a challenging job. When we outsource our IT, applications and data processing to third-parties more and more every day, managing that risk becomes almost impossible. No longer are our data and systems contained within an infrastructure that we have full control over. We now give vendors our data, and allow them to conduct operations on our behalf.  The problem is, we don’t control their infrastructure, and we can never fully look under the hood to understand and vet their ability to protect our data and operations. We have to fully understand how important this issue is, and ensure we have the right governance, processes and teams to identify and mitigate any risks found in our vendors. No longer are our data and systems contained within an infrastructure that we have full control over Today, everything is connected. Our own networks have Internet of Things (IoT) devices.  We have VPN connections coming in, and we aren’t always sure who is on the other end of that connection. It is a full-time job just to get a handle on our own risk. How much harder, and how much larger should our teams and budgets be, to truly know and trust that our vendors can secure those devices and external connections?  For every device and application we have internally, it is very difficult to even keep an accurate inventory. Do all of our vendors have some special sauce that allows them to overcome the traditional challenges of securing internal and vendor-connected networks? They are doing the same thing we are – doing our best with the limited human and financial resources allocated by our organisation. Risk stratification and control objectives  The benefits of outsourcing operations or using a vendor web application are clear. So how can we properly vet those vendors from an IT risk perspective?  The very first thing we need to put in place is Risk Stratification. Risk Stratification presents a few targeted questions in the purchasing process. These questions include – what type of data will be shared? How much of this data? Will the data be hosted by a vendor? Will this hosting be in the US or offshored? Has the vendor ever had a data breach? These questions allow you to quickly discern if a risk assessment is needed and if so, what depth and breadth.  Risk stratification allows you to make decisions that not only improve your team’s efficiency, but also ensure that you are not being a roadblock to the business Risk stratification allows you to make decisions that not only improve your team’s efficiency, but also ensure that you are not being a roadblock to the business. With risk stratification, you can justify the extra time needed to properly assess a vendor’s security.  And in the assessment of a vendor’s security, we have to consider what control objectives we will use. Control objectives are access controls, policies, encryption, etc. In healthcare, we often use the HITRUST set of control objectives. In assessing against those control objectives, we usually use a spreadsheet.  Today, there are many vendors who will sell us more automated ways to get that risk assessment completed, without passing spreadsheets back and forth. 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These are questions we need to entertain in our risk management programs, and socialised within your organisation.  This issue is so important – once we institute risk acceptance, our organisation suddenly starts caring about the vendors and applications we’re looking to engage.  If they are asked to accept a risk without some sort of mitigation, they suddenly care and think about that when they are vetting future outsourced solutions. Quantitative risk analysis involves quantifying risks in terms of likelihood and impact of a risk manifesting Risk management process  In this discussion, it is important to understand how we think of, and present, the gaps we identify in our risk management processes. A gap is not a risk. If I leave my front door unlocked, is that a control gap or a risk? It is a gap – an unlocked door. What is the risk?  The risk is the loss of property due to a burglary or the loss of life due to a violent criminal who got in because the door was unlocked. 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We tier them in different ways – in healthcare a Tier 1 vendor is a vendor who will have our patient information on the Internet. Tiering allows us to subject our vendors to re-assessment. A tier 1 vendor should be re-assessed annually, and may require an actual onsite assessment vs. a desk audit. A tier 2 vendor is re-assessed every 2 years, etc. We are responsible for protecting our organisation’s IT and data infrastructure – today that often means assessing a 3rd-party’s security controls. We must be able to fully assess our vendors while not getting in the way of the business, which needs to ensure proper operations, financial productivity and customer satisfaction. If we truly understand our challenge of vendor risk management, we can tailor our operations to assess at the level needed, identify and report on risks, and follow-up on any risks that needed mitigated.