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May 2, 2016 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Federal Government Contractor Providing Cyber Security, Intelligence Operations and Mission Assurance



Joel Griffin



Dependable Global Solutions


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – May 2, 2016


CEOCFO: Mr. Griffin, would you tell us the focus at Dependable Global Solutions today?

Mr. Griffin: Dependable Global Solutions is a federal contractor; we provide services for customers across the government including the DOD, IC, LE, DHS, and other Agencies. Our focus areas are security as a service with focus areas that include cyber security, intelligence operations and mission assurance.


CEOCFO: The reputation for security with the government, particularly in the cyber arena is not very favorable presently. Would you tell us about how the services you provide really make a difference?

Mr. Griffin: We take a comprehensive approach to security. We do not look at security as an individual or stove-pipe aspect. For us security is integrating into operations and is not intended to be prohibitive of critical operations. It is supposed to work in a symbiotic relationship. It is also the critical understanding that security is not just either cyber security or physical security. You must have a comprehensive strategy for implementing both. We perform cyber security but we also help with the accreditation aspect, policy aspect, and the insider threat initiatives. We look at security as a holistic endeavor versus just a singular solution.


CEOCFO: When you are assessing a project, what piece might you look at that others do not add in the mix?

Mr. Griffin: I think one of the examples that we frequently use is that we might have clients who have cyber security requirements, but as we are implementing cyber security solutions, we will also review their policy and practices, access control, passwords, systems administration. We look at a variety of pieces that are ancillary to the contract we may have but are directly impactful. A good example might be if you pay a company to perform a cyber security solution but the customers’ access control policy for network closets is not enforced then you have jeopardized your cyber security solution through a physical security risk. We look at it from the perspective that a ‘silver bullet’ solution for any one issue or threat does not exist. You have to look at the client environment in its totality to understand what their needs might be and then implement a solution that is complimentary to what they are already performing and builds on existing capabilities.


CEOCFO: Are agencies turning to you because they understand the depth of your approach or might it be a pleasant surprise?

Mr. Griffin: It is a mix between the two. The cyber security market in particular is saturated with companies that perform specific aspects of cyber, accreditation being the most common. When it comes to prospective customers they come to us for a unique solution that we would develop for them versus COTS solution that they typically have already purchased which was unable to solve their primary issue. DGS as a whole has differentiated ourselves in the market because the offerings that we provide are unique to each customer base. For example, we are helping with the transition for some of our customers from DIACAP to the risk management framework (RMF), or we are actively involved in understanding new requirements as they come out from the federal government for security as a whole such as JRSS and Insider Threat. Because of the services which we provide and because we are helping to not only draft policy in some respects but also to implement these new concepts, people are coming to us and asking us to help them implement these new requirements within their organizations.


CEOCFO: Are there specific agencies or types of agencies that might turn to you more than others or do you typically work across the board?

Mr. Griffin: No, security is a universal concept. Obviously, each customer has their own nuanced environment and their requirements are unique and we respect that. However, security as a service, using the methodology we have developed, is really applicable to any market whether that is the federal government or the private sector.


CEOCFO: Do you work with the government and enterprise?

Mr. Griffin: We work with both. The majority of our work today is government contracts but starting this year we have started exploring other enterprise markets.


CEOCFO: How do you stay ahead of the challenges in security?

Mr. Griffin: At the corporate strategic level it is being involved in the community, not just for our business development purposes but also being involved from a community awareness aspect. By maintaining a presence in professional organizations, participating in industry outreach efforts, and ongoing training both as attendees and instructors we can begin identifying the people and organizations who are potential partners, and who are leading the way in a particular initiative. For our staff we are always looking at sending them to training to obtain or maintain their professional certifications. As well they are encouraged to attend conferences so they are always being exposed to new technologies or identify potential threats. Lastly, DGS Executives are very involved in many non-profit areas supporting STEM initiatives, cyber summer camps, and other educational initiatives to support the next generation of cyber-warfighters. We are always collecting new information and ideas at all levels of the company. In many cases, being involved in the community is the most cost effective way to remain at the forefront of how government initiatives are evolving, where policy is going, and what the needs of the private sector are. Each of these have direct ramifications of the direction DGS needs to make to remain competitive and set DGS apart as a leader in the industry.


CEOCFO: Are you surprised there is no real solution yet?

Mr. Griffin: Cyber is a very fast evolving and fluid threat operating environment; I think there are a lot of smart and dedicated people focused on the issues from all perspectives but cyber is not a simple problem. Like other companies in our field this is something we are paying close attention to and we are working diligently to resolve the most pressing issues of the day. It is just a matter of balancing the security requirements that we must implement, while also understanding the operational demands and sometimes the operational pace itself. This very often restricts existing security capabilities because people today have come to expect that everything is wireless and accessible. You can pay for dinner with your phone and your home thermostat can be changed from anywhere through an app. People have come to expect these amenities but I do not think they really understand that there is a security vulnerability present whenever you add that layer of comfort and accessibility which comes from a computer or internet connected device. However, due to recent “hacks” in the government, private sector, and banking I think we have turned a corner and Cyber has taken on a new level of importance within the government.


CEOCFO: When you are crafting a solution, are you able to help them with some of the common things, such as reminding people not to click on unknown links?

Mr. Griffin: Humans are often the weakest link in the strongest most secure networks; it is important to note that over fifty percent of your security violations come from insider threats. That is not to say that people have malicious intent. People are clinking on links and they are opening up social media from secure locations so part of our solution is about creating a sense of awareness and understanding. I do not think people need to be fearful of losing their jobs but through strong policy enforcement, annual staff training, combined with solid technical security means the number of incidents can be significantly reduced. If you have violations after implementing these measures, then you can justify the necessary resources to explore those specific threats. I believe knowledge is power and that when people understand the ramifications of some of the decisions they make, I think they would willingly change how they do business.


CEOCFO: Do you do provide some of the implementation or offer training for your clients?

Mr. Griffin: We certainly provide training. We are not particularly tied to any individual product. It’s about ensuring the best solution and value to the client. What I mean by that is the products that we use typically allow us to perform a particular service. We do not go to a client and try to sell them an individual solution unless we really understand that client’s needs and understand that solution will solve a particular problem. When we support a customer, and as part of ever evolving technologies and standards, we do recommend implementing new capabilities within existing networks where it is cost effective and beneficial to their environment.


As far as training, it comes in many forms. It’s something that we have provided to several customers. We conduct training for the federal government today both in terms of classroom based training as well as field exercises. We have led exercises, provided role players for exercises, and have experience developing curriculum and teaching basic through advanced courses for cyber, intelligence collection and Intelligence analysis.

Training plays a major role in any business in terms of providing training to our customers for contracts but also training conducted by our employees within the contractor community. We have staff who are instructors at SANS, are adjunct professors at the University of Maryland’s Cyber program, and serve as panelists on cyber for the government. Several of our staff have served as faculty at government agency intelligence training institutions as well.


Finally, there is training for our employees which we strongly encourage through an annual allotment to each staff member. This covers their education whether that be advanced degrees, professional certifications, or conferences. This is intended to support their individual development to remain proficient with the skills, certifications and what tools and techniques are available in the community. This directly benefits the client by maintaining a proficient staff and indirectly reducing staff turnover on programs.


CEOCFO: Would you tell us how you help smooth the process of implementation?

Mr. Griffin: I think working with your customer and understanding what their requirements are, but also understanding the expectations out of those requirements. We have all heard the joke of requirements not always resulting in what the customer wants, so I think understanding the end game - where the customer wants to be - whether that is for compliance or adherence to a particular policy or setting up a new concept of their own allows us to aide in the process from a consultative standpoint. If you understand what the expectations are, then you can look to align and where necessary to realign the requirements to meet those expectations. We spend a lot of time with our customers up front and try to get to know where they want to be versus just providing them with a list of the actions we are taking. We explain why we are doing the things we do and how it will help them achieve their goals and add value. This results in a well-informed customer who has “buy in” to the process.


CEOCFO: How do people find DGS?

Mr. Griffin: We are on the web at We are also on many of the social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. More commonly though our customers and employees find us through referrals. When we have the opportunity to support a customer we perform that service to the best of our ability. Because of that, we have gotten a lot of repeat and referral business. We also have referrals from people who have talked to their colleagues, peers, and other organizations and have referred them to us to provide either a similar service or something that might be completely different. But based on our reputation of customer service and expert delivery, we have been able to expand our business organically and through new awards, both as Prime and Sub.


CEOCFO: What has changed in your approach over time?

Mr. Griffin: I think one of the core focuses for us early on was cyber because it was our initial push into the market. Since then we have developed our own concept of “security as a service”. This incorporates all aspects of security from intelligence collection to risk management to policy analysis. By combining aspects of both physical and logical security provides a more comprehensive solution for our customers. Of course not all customers need every capability but we offer a single source for their security needs rather than seeking multiple vendors.


One thing that remains unchanged–our commitment to customer service. I am a big believer that if someone is paying you to perform, you should make sure that you are not only delivering but you are also making sure that you are communicating with them on a regular basis. We adhere to the contractual guidelines but I think communication with our customers sets us apart. It goes beyond letting them know that the contract is being delivered, it’s demonstrating you are there for them if there are any issues and whenever they have questions. I’ve seen too many times when contractors get comfortable and senior leadership only shows up when it’s time for the re-compete. Building a relationship of trust matters as much as contractual deliverables. This idea of customer service goes a long way with helping us grow our business because we do not forget where we come from. We treat every contract as if it is our only one and we spend a lot of time making sure that the customers do receive that continuous line of communication. The staff that we have onsite are the top talent and they are continuously trained to make sure that they are the top of their skill level. This has been a core value since we started and remains in the forefront of our business culture.


CEOCFO: What is your day-to-day focus as Chief Strategy Officer?

Mr. Griffin: I have been with the business since we started. I have done everything from write the proposals, to perform the work, to loading printer toner. Over time we have designated SME’s who pay particular attention to their specific areas of interest and support our capture management efforts. We’ve also hired a COO who manages the day-to-day programs, making sure that we are delivering and providing that customer service. This maturation of our organization has allowed me, in my particular role as CSO, to not only conduct business development in terms of what opportunities we are going to be bidding on, but also where the market is going, where are the requirements going, how is security evolving, and where do we need to be five or ten years from now. I take the term “strategy” literally and try to focus on how DGS can remain at the forefront of cyber and how we continue to provide our customers with not only the service they have come to expect but also the level of expertise needed to perform the job.


“Cyber is a very fast evolving and fluid threat operating environment; I think there are a lot of smart and dedicated people focused on the issues from all perspectives but cyber is not a simple problem.” - Joel Griffin


Dependable Global Solutions


Joel Griffin








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