SunCorp Endorses SecureWorks For Its Client CUs

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SunCorp has formalized an agreement with a provider of a network security solution that it is now recommending to its member credit unions.

The corporate, which serves more than 500 credit unions in the Rocky Mountain and Great Plains regions, has endorsed Atlanta-based SecureWorks to member credit unions seeking a referral for a security vendor. SecureWorks, a managed security service provider for 500 credit unions in all 50 states, has been protecting SunCorp's networks for two years.

Charlie Roberts, SunCorp's senior vice president of IT (information technology), said the corporate's relationship with SecureWorks predates his May 2004 arrival. SunCorp originally hired SecureWorks to monitor for intrusion attempts and denial of service attacks on its networks.

In fall 2004, SunCorp wanted a risk assessment performed on its systems. "SecureWorks won the bid," recalled Roberts.

The corporate receives regular inquiries from its member CUs as to which security vendors it uses or recommends, he continued, "but we don't want to put our name and reputation on the line unless we are very happy and confident about a company."

Over a several month period, Roberts told a few credit unions in Colorado about SecureWorks. He said in each instance he followed up to make sure the member CUs were happy with the vendor-which they were.

As a result, the corporate decided to make the relationship a formal one. "We will continue to monitor the level of effort SecureWorks gives to our member credit unions," said Roberts.

Onion Layers

Tyler Winkler, SecureWorks' senior vice president of sales, said the company was pleased to get the preferred referral partner designation from the corporate CU.

"We've been protecting SunCorp's networks for a couple years now. They've done due diligence on our service, so they can go to their member credit unions and say, 'You can have the same security we do.'"

"It is a great opportunity for all three parties-SecureWorks, SunCorp and SunCorp's members," he continued. "I think it is hard for credit unions, because there is a lot of noise on the street regarding network security. It is hard to tell the difference between a good service and a 'me-too' service."

SecureWorks already has added six SunCorp referrals as clients, he added.

According to Winkler, SecureWorks offers financial institutions a "defense in depth" strategy. He said the concept consists of multiple layers of security around a network. The outer layer is the Internet, all the way down to critical systems.

"Think of it as a giant onion," he said. "We protect all Internet connectivity, from e-mail to online banking. It just depends on a credit union's goals."

No Active Promotion, Yet

Roberts said SunCorp will approach the referral business cautiously at first. He said the corporate will not actively promote SecureWorks, but will respond to requests.

"We won't actively market; we really want to see how it goes," he said. "I get calls about once a week asking if I know of a security vendor or asking which one we use, so there is a genuine level of interest."

SunCorp will not reap a direct benefit from its new relationship with the vendor, though Roberts named two potential indirect benefits: goodwill from members and potentially more favorable pricing from SecureWorks in the future if it brings the company new clients.

"The bottom line is, we hope it helps out our members. It won't replace their due diligence, but it is one more data point or additional resource for them when they are looking. We like being an IT service consultant to our member credit unions."

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