One-on-One: A conversation with Ontic’s Lukas Quanstrom

Nov. 24, 2020
Company’s CEO discusses why their ‘Protective Intelligence Platform’ is a unique offering for the industry

Physical security, for better or worse, has traditionally existed within its own organizational silo. For many years, security was seen as a cost center rather than a business enabler and other departments did not see an incentive or benefit from sharing their data with them.

More recently, however, the lines between organizational disciplines have begun to blur as threats from each domain have begun to encroach on the other. For example, the rise in workplace violence has encouraged greater collaboration between human resources and security as security leaders are now more likely to be consulted in the event an emotionally volatile employee is being terminated or if a worker is being abused by a domestic partner who may show up at the office.

Technological convergence has also resulted in the erosion of walls between IT and physical security. Hackers can exploit cyber vulnerabilities in connected security systems, such as video surveillance, and use them as entry points to the larger corporate IT network, resulting in a data breach. Conversely, as many penetration testers have demonstrated, attackers have also found ways to subvert physical access control systems at facilities to breach networks and steal or compromise data.

And while physical security has historically had its own set of tools for pulling together data from different security sensors and systems to mitigate potential threats, there have been few solutions developed that gather relevant information from all of these business functions and stream it into a unified offering. Enter Ontic, which has built what it calls a “Protective Intelligence Platform” to integrate and digitally transform the critical data that security professionals need to wade through to enable early detection of threats to the organization. (SIW) recently caught up with Lukas Quanstrom, Ontic’s CEO, to discuss what makes their technology unique in the market and how companies have leveraged it during the pandemic?

SIW: What would you say differentiates your threat intelligence solution from similar offerings on the market?

Quanstrom: Insights from our platform allow corporate security leaders, general counsel, HR professionals, and executive protection teams to better identify behaviors and pre-incident indicators, assess the risk there, and then help mitigate potential threats in order to protect employees, customers, assets, etc.  A big difference for us is we are transforming how Fortune 1000 companies address physical security compliance and potential hidden crises.

One way to look at it is we are bringing a lot of collaboration of different groups that typically haven’t collaborated as much as they do until they have a system like Ontic in place. No other company is really unifying all of these different types of critical data that these professionals need like we are in a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) environment – things like social media, news, Dark Web (intelligence), their encrypted security systems as well as their own HR and CRM data and public record data. So, they are able to do that and we’re empowering them to see more and more quickly to effectively detect any issues, anomalies or commonalities and analyze and mitigate those threats to executives, employees, or customers. Whereas other providers are typically pretty deep in a vertical, we’re horizontal.

SIW: Who are your biggest customers from a vertical market perspective?

Quanstrom: Ontic is vertically agnostic. We do work with some of the largest retail, technology, financial services, media and entertainment, and even manufacturing companies in the world – a lot of brand names people would recognize. We have over a dozen Fortune 500 clients and a lot of other further down but even Fortune 50 clients as well.

SIW: What are some of the biggest trends you are currently seeing in the marketplace and how are some of your customers using your platform during the pandemic?

Quanstrom: Now more than ever, in the wake of Covid-19, remote working and all the racial justice activism and political unrest, these physical security teams are stretched and facing a lot of new and complex challenges. They do have resource and time constraints and we’ve seen that they move from one disconnected tool to another before Ontic and go grab data from here or from here and try to stich things together, so I think that critical information living in disparate sources has been a big problem and that lack of a comprehensive view of potential threats that might exist when they are not seen altogether. It’s tough to stitch that narrative for these security teams.

Our ability to help them effectively collaborate at scale has been crucial, especially in this time when everyone is sitting at home and they need a cloud-based solution that helps aggregate that and give everyone the information they need when they need it. That’s been a big asset during this time in terms of efficiency and productivity and aligning that for these teams. This pandemic is a real inflection point in physical security transformation as health and economic challenges have really converged and arisen here.

SIW: What is your go-to-market strategy?

Quanstrom: Today, it is pretty direct. We do have some interesting partnerships that I would say help in terms of go-to-market, companies like WAVR-21, which is a threat assessment methodology, and Sigma Threat Management Associates. We also have partnerships with some of our data providers and that’s what I would call kind of ‘light channel’ today, but principally referrals to be honest more than pure channel sales.

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of and a veteran security journalist. You can reach him at [email protected].