Partners chart roadmap to bring security to converging digital and physical world

When home security leader ADT and digital security leader McAfee recently announced their collaboration, Arthur Orduña, ADT’s Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, characterized the new partnership as a reflection of a quickly evolving consumer marketplace.  

“The headline here for us is that if people are starting to think about digital and physical security together as one element, then we need to think about how does ADT partner with someone to provide the most comprehensive solution possible,” says  Orduña . “Any home security company not thinking this way will be providing an incomplete approach.”

 At January’s annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), ADT and McAfee joined forces in hopes of raising the standards for consumer protection and redefining the next generation of security for the connected world. The goal of this partnership is to develop a cohesive platform where users on both the consumer and commercial side can easily protect their digital and physical domains from one centralized, easy to use portal.

For Michelle Dennedy, McAfee’s VP and Chief Privacy Officer, the move with ADT is a natural extension of their technology outreach across the industry. McAfee partners with myriad security vendors to help strengthen their solutions. “We’ve played in this IT space for a long time, but looking at this partnership through McAfee eyes, we think this is very cool. “ Dennedy says. “We are seeing a shift in consumer behavior on both the enterprise and the consumer side. People are looking to digitize their control panels and they are starting to look at that as a venue to consolidate all their assets. We’re seeing more people using smart phone technology to control their home systems. So this is a natural progression for us both.”

In the initial phase of the partnership, the McAfee LiveSafe service will be combined with ADT Pulse to provide an additional layer of protection for a customer’s home or business.

“We see this partnership going across both our residential and commercial customer base. We are incredibly excited about working with McAfee because now we as an independent company and the leader in current traditional home security and home automation in North America, it gives us the opportunity to define what we as a market leader should do.,” says Orduña.

Orduña adds that ADT realized that it needed reexamine the way that security and protection is defined in today’s rapidly changing digital environment. “One of the things a leader does is never being satisfied with the status quo. They are always looking to see how things change – and not just technology, but the consumers and customers themselves.”

Saying that the partnership with McAfee is part of ADT’s quest for redefining its definition of what security actually means to its evolving customer base, Orduña points out that most of the market focuses on protecting premises. He feels that to create a holistic security approach that encompasses both security technology and management of information, people have to be part of the equation.

“Along with protecting physical assets, we needed to figure out how to extend that protection to data assets, device and content as well. Once we had made that philosophic redefinition as a company, we also realized that instead of us trying to build out these areas that are new to us, let’s go find a leader in digital and device protection.”

Dennedy agrees that approaching the protection issue with the customer in mind was what led to the collaboration. Being able to attack the digital security issue with a tradition physical security partner will provide coverage for both home and commercial clients.

“Arthur made the point that this is a partnership encompassing both the consumer and commercial customers. This is exactly the same for us coming from the other side.  Small and medium businesses are often in the homes or under-protected facilities. Their physical assets like laptop computers or tablets aren’t being stolen to resell on EBay, but instead thieves are looking for potentially lucrative proprietary information on that device,” Dennedy explains. “The digital life has become so entwined with the physical assets that it is just a natural partnership for us to go in this direction.  Especially when our consumer customers are behaving in this very fluid way, they expect us to now meet their changing needs now and into the future.”

To further illustrate the validity of their partnership and the converging paths of physical and digital security, ADT and McAfee joined forces in a research project to highlight the important parallels between personal and online security. This just released survey had some very enlightening results. More than 39 percent of respondents say they use technological devices to control their home security systems and 34 percent use smartphones to do so.  Commissioned by The Futures Company, the joint survey of over 1,000 consumers shows that more than 51 percent of respondents reported having their personal security compromised through both physical and online breaches. When asked to define "personal security," about 77 percent of survey participants consider it to intertwine both physical and online security, providing further insight that our digital and physical lives have merged into one.

“When we launched this research we were really curious to see how many of our customers considered physical and digital security intertwined. We were amazed at the results. We found that 77 percent of our participants felt that physical and digital security should be grouped together, and that they consider it to be personal security. This was an epiphany of sorts for us,” says Orduña.

We were the first of the home security companies to launch an automation service and automated platform when we released Pulse three years ago – now there are obviously several competitors – but what we found because of the launch of automation, more and more customers are using digital devices and smartphones to control their systems. That is a huge shift in traditional security. “Orduña adds.

One of the most shocking statistics reflected in the survey shows how ill-prepared most consumers are in protecting their digital space. Over 33 percent of people use their devices to control their physical alarm systems, and more than half of them fail to secure their devices with basic protection like private passwords. And those who have experienced a home break-in, 59 percent reported a computer or mobile device among stolen items -- leaving their personal data in the hands of thieves.

 Reportedly, an estimated 1.6 million Americans have their smartphones stolen in 2012.  This is especially important considering 30 percent of Android and Windows smartphone users and 50 percent of iPhone users don't lock their mobile devices.

“The IQ curve has gone up, but I think it is fascinating that in many cases people are just starting to get on top of this thing,” concludes Dennedy. “The hard part being in the privacy and security industry – physical and virtual – is to remember that far too many customers are still fresh to the concept of securing their data and device. So this partnership is exciting to us as we look to get the word out to a whole new group of customers.”