Partnering for security with Sigma 3 Kitchens Ltd

An interview with Tim Larcombe, Business Systems and IT Director at Sigma 3 Kitchens Ltd

Tim Larcombe, Business Systems and IT Director at Sigma 3, wanted to secure his business network against unauthorised attack. He engaged Net Consulting to dive deep into the network and inform him of any potential vulnerabilities. With confidence in his network and infrastructure restored, Tim has been able to begin a new software implementation project that will dramatically improve efficiency. Here he sheds light on what it’s like to work with Net Consulting, and why he’d recommend an independent network assessment to anyone lacking the skills in house.
How long has Sigma 3 been in business?

Over 40 years now. Our founder started by selling kitchens out of his old garage in Barry and still owns the business lock, stock and two smoking barrels.

Now we have roughly 180 employees, and an annual turnover of over £20m, so we’ve come on a bit since the days of building kitchens in garages! Nowadays, we manufacture kitchens from a 60,000sq. ft. state of the art factory, which produces over 1,500 cabinets a week.

How important is your role?

Within our business, anything that requires power comes under my remit. We manufacture and retail kitchens, selling to three main market places: our own retail stores, builders and kitchen studios. If the network fails, production grinds to a halt and we stand to lose tens of thousands of pounds in revenue.

What problems did you ask Net Consulting to solve?

Considering all the recent cases of ransomware, I asked Net Consulting (NCL) to show me the vulnerability of our networks. Attackers aren’t solely focused on the biggest companies in the world, but anyone who shows a vulnerability, and we wanted to tighten up.

Despite having significant experience as an IT professional, I know my limits. There are some things I don’t understand, and I think it’s unlikely that many companies of our size have the required knowledge in house.

What were you most concerned about?

Unwittingly opening our front door to a load of burglars. I wanted to see how they could get in and out, and what damage they could potentially do. I wanted to understand all of that for myself before anyone else could exploit us.

A network breach would have massive financial implications for our business. Our entire factory now runs online and we have computers all the way along the manufacturing line. If one of those goes wrong, or a machine does down, the business stops.

Did you explore any other options before you came to Net Consulting?

Yes. As with any tender, we engaged three different vendors to see what they could offer and what they would charge.

NCL weren’t the cheapest, but their proposal was the most detailed and I trusted them to deliver. Given that this was new territory for me, I made my decision based on the company that provided the most information. NCL laid it all out so simply: this is what we’re going to do, this is what you’ll get out of it, and this is what you’ll be able to determine from the results.

Did Net Consulting deliver?

They went over and above my expectations. The solution was up and running almost instantaneously and the whole experience was completely painless on our side.

What did Net Consulting provide?

A lot of support and a better understanding of the issues we could encounter. They used the Blue Armour product to provide a full security scan of the system, which showed us where our vulnerabilities were. We saw what we needed to patch, what we needed to plug and what we needed to change within our infrastructure to make us more secure.

After we’d scanned the system and ensured our infrastructure was secure, the next concern for me was our employees. Even with secure infrastructure, I couldn’t guarantee that a member of staff wouldn’t open a dodgy email attachment and accidentally infect the network with a virus.

So, we engaged with NCL again for cyber security awareness training, which they provided to all employees across the business. They now know what to look out for, what not to click and when to raise their hands.

Did you ask for more services from Net Consulting after those initial engagements?

We also asked them to run an infrastructure assessment as part of the consideration process for a new piece of software that we were purchasing. We were running an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that was being reported as slow by a lot of the users. I wanted to make sure it was the software running slow rather than our infrastructure failing us before investing £500k on new software and getting the same response.

NCL gave me insight into our infrastructure that I couldn’t have gained myself. They found that we had 3x more capacity than we needed, which confirmed that the issue was with the software. This gave me the confidence to kick off the two-year implementation project.

Would you recommend Net Consulting to others in your position?

In all engagements with Net Consulting, I’ve found that they go the extra mile. Whether that’s in providing more useful information than requested, or offering a simpler explanation, they added value at each step and we’ve been very impressed.

They’ve provided complete peace of mind. We know we’ve done everything in our power to prevent an attack on our network.

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