CASE STUDY: Detroit PBS

Background

Brian Denn is the Vice President of Engineering and Technical Operations and has been with Detroit PBS for 14 years. He enrolled in college to pursue a degree in broadcasting and communications and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Communications with a minor in Public and Non-Profit Management from Colorado State University. In 2010, he started work at Detroit PBS as a part-time technician operating various pieces of broadcast equipment in the studios and on remote productions. Brian became a full-time employee a year later as a Maintenance Technician and has never looked back. In his current role, he oversees Engineering, IT, Facilities, and Programming Operations.

Detroit PBS was introduced to SensCy through the recommendation of one of the organization’s board members. In addition, Detroit PBS had worked closely with former Governor Rick Snyder, the founder of SensCy, and his team, providing broadcast coverage of such events as the gubernatorial debate and multiple appearances at the Mackinac Policy Conference. Brian says he wanted to learn more about the former Governor’s new venture, SensCy (Sensible Cyber Security) and reached out to connectin 2023. Brian was impressed with members of the SensCy team and their eagerness to work with Detroit PBS. He says that SensCy shares values with Detroit PBS around cybersecurity and that the SensCy team was more interested in working with the organization and helping where they could, rather than just making a sale. This was a refreshing approach.

Detroit PBS is committed to reducing cybersecurity risks and wanted to upgrade its knowledge and defenses. Brian says that he has read about successful cyber-attacks and understands how devastating they can be to the organization and their reputation in the community. Detroit PBS has an MSP but wanted more expertise, experience, and protection in addition to what its MSP could provide. He had looked at other solutions and realized they would be prohibitively expensive for a mid-sized NFP.

The Decision

The decision to proceed with SensCy was an organizational decision. Brian says that his IT team, led by Henry Farmer, is fully committed to reducing cybersecurity risks. Brian explains: “Cybersecurity is an ongoing threat.What we learn and prevent today may no longer be a threat tomorrow, but some other threat will take its place. We always want to make sure that our employees, our viewers, and anyone who is associated with the organization are safe and secure. We’ve all heard stories of organizations that’ve been victims of ransomware attacks or contracted viruses that take down the organization. These attacks can truly cripple, and cost the organization quite a bit of money. Our organization wants to be in front of these risks and prevent the attacks the best way that we can, and that’s through staff training and awareness with a partner like SensCy.”

SensCy came in with a definitive plan for helping Detroit PBS. It began by assessing the organization’s cyber awareness and assigning a SensCy score from one to a thousand, providing a calculation of Detroit PBS’s cyber-security status. The initial assessment revelated Detroit PBS had a score of 648. Brian says that the organization’s score was not where he wanted it and that they could use improving. He committed himself to raising the score as high as possible. He saw there were definitive gaps, and he wanted those gaps filled quickly.

SensCy then went to work, providing training, consulting, and technology to help. Brian says: “It was very streamlined. They had a clear set of onboarding procedures that helped us understand the areas in which we needed assistance. From there, we worked with SensCy to strengthen our weaknesses and improve in areas where we lacked structure.

I’m extremely proud of our staff and our IT department who helped us get there in under a years’ time; and appreciative of the SensCy team that helped us get there.

The Implementation

Brian was also impressed with the SensCy portal. He says: “Everything’s cloud-based and driven to where we don’t have to have hardware on- site. They manage everything on their end. The SensCy portal is very user-friendly and accessible. Even on the administrative side, it walks you through all of your policies, your SensCy score, and the incident response plan, that they helped us to create, as well as any training that’s being offered to employees. Every month they’re adding more capabilities. I like that. The longer we’re with them, the more new and useful features they offer. The service continues to improve.”

Detroit PBS has been a customer of SensCy for approximately a year. According to Brian, the staff at Detroit PBS has a very favorable impression of SensCy and how it’s improved the organization’s cybersecurity defenses. He says that the Detroit PBS staff thought that the SensCy advice, training, and support were easily digestible and exceptionally helpful. Brian is thrilled to have improved his cybersecurity score so dramatically.

When asked what he would say in a reference call for SensCy, Brian responds: “I would drive home that you get out of it what you put into it. We were really looking for some policy guidance, and they were able to help us in that area right from the start. SensCy helped with staff training as well as additional policy documentation. So, it really depends on what an organization is looking for. But I have nothing but great things to say about SensCy. It provided exactly what we needed, how we needed it, when we needed it, and at the price that we needed. It’s a great fit for an organization of our size.”

Because of these improvements, we became the first organization to reach a 1,000 on the SensCy cybersecurity score.

About Detroit PBS

Detroit PBS is the viewer-supported PBS member station serving Southeast Michigan. Its vision is of a community in which people trust public TV to help them discover new ideas, make informeddecisions, and enjoy enriched lives. The headquarters is located in Wixom, MI.In addition to the TV station, it operates a radio station,90.9 WRCJ, licensed to Detroit Classical and Jazz Educational Radio, LLC., and is managed by Detroit PBS and the Detroit Public Media Board of Trustees. Detroit PBS has earned the 2021 GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency for non-profits.