Ed Bensinger remembers a time in his childhood when the corner of his house was missing; where a wood frame and siding should be, there was a gaping hole and a brisk breeze. His Pennsylvania home was on a truck route, and this day a truck driver made a devastating error in direction.
That wasn’t the worst part. When the insurance money came in, his stepfather promptly gambled it away, confident he could double the value. He didn’t. There was no money left to fix the damage, and so Bensinger’s mother did the only thing she could and patched up the hole with duct tape. He was grateful for his mother’s commitment to protecting the family. “She instilled in me the work ethic and drive required to overcome life’s obstacles,” he says. Still, it wasn’t easy growing up poor. “It’s not fun to be known as the family with the duct-tape house.” It was at this point in his young life that Bensinger knew he would never settle for duct-tape solutions again.
New Dreams And Submarines
Even though Bensinger’s school never had a computer lab, using math and trigonometry to build computers or robots just clicked. “I’m a logical person, so electronics – especially digital electronics – works,” he says. “I understood it; it’s the way my brain thinks.” He knew his skill in electronics would be his ticket out of the small town, and so after high school, he attended a two-year tech school and earned his FCC license to work on radio transmitters.
Technology wasn’t the only thing that made Bensinger tick; he always had a desire to protect and contribute, as his mother taught him. After school, he planned to enlist in the United States Air Force, until a car accident changed everything. Bensinger survived a crash that severely damaged his leg – and his dream to join the Air Force. Though his body was injured, he didn’t let it deter him from finding a meaningful career. After all, he still had his tech degree and a passion for computers; he knew that opportunity was waiting in the IT industry.
He moved to Arizona to work as IT support while attending community college to get Microsoft-certified in one of only three Microsoft beta test centers. By the end of the semester, Bensinger was awarded a prestigious internship in systems administration with Motorola. Within two months, his ambition and commitment to excellence earned him a promotion to the position of full-time network administrator.
His dream of serving his country came full circle when he was assigned to network security administration on US military nuclear submarines. “Motorola made computers that ran nuclear subs. There’s a lot of security involved, so I started getting into network security. I got introduced to new ideas and was able to test out new equipment,” says Bensinger. “They would give me a new computer from IBM, and I’d have to set it up securely, test it out and make sure that if somebody walked out with it, they couldn’t retrieve any data. I enjoyed it and I was good at it.”
Understanding and implementing cutting-edge network technology was a powerful way to protect his country from outside threats, and that was satisfying to Bensinger. “It was rewarding, fulfilling and challenging,” he says, “because cyber security is changing every day. I’m good at problem-solving and coming up with solutions. The engineers might say, ‘I need this and how can you make it happen?’ I figure it out and that’s rewarding for me.”
When he was offered a job at MindSpring to build and manage an entire network himself, however, he didn’t hesitate. He knew his experience would allow him to reach more people who needed better security. The advanced systems he used on the military subs hadn’t yet reached mainstream tech, so he brought it to them. “I was asking MindSpring how they wanted their security set up and I never got any information. So I did what I learned at Motorola,” says Bensinger. “I built it out, and eventually managers in Atlanta came to look at my network, but they didn’t understand what I was doing. Once I sat down and showed them how it worked, my security model was pushed out across the whole system.” He brought network access to 500 users in Phoenix, and his team to hundreds more in five major cities.
Clients As Partners From The Beginning
After MindSpring merged with Earthlink, Bensinger was the project manager from MindSpring in charge of securely merging their networks together. After the merger was complete, Bensinger went to work for an electric company where he helped secure networks for nuclear power plants. He also started to secure clients on the side. Several of them said, “When are you just going to quit your job and start your own business?”
Bensinger treated his clients differently, and it helped their businesses grow. He’d ask, “What are the processes you have in place? What workflow do you want? What are your business goals?” From that, he would create custom solutions that worked, made them more efficient and saved money. “My clients are the ones who pushed me into the MSP model and said, ‘We’ll guarantee you this much money a month if you do this,’” recalls Bensinger. In 2003, he built Bensinger Consulting, Arizona’s leading cyber security MSSP, which now serves clients from tea-bag manufacturers to commercial real estate firms and provides solutions that support clients doing in excess of $1 billion in annual sales.
Word spread of Bensinger’s personable service and ability to save businesses thousands of dollars on hiring, salaries and benefits while improving their network with enterprise-class solutions. He sees the entire picture of a business. He sees business owners who care about employees. He sees people with families to provide for. Bensinger and his clients work together to build and grow their business, seeing each other as partners who are more than the sum of their job. “If I’m talking to clients, I understand that they come with their own experiences, their own baggage,” Bensinger says. “I choose to see where other people are coming from and still focus on what the end goal is.”
Bensinger Consulting’s clients value them as indispensable – team members who will protect their business and their legacy for years to come. “We realize that not only are we protecting their net- works or their business,” says Bensinger, “but we’re protecting their livelihood, their family and all their employees’ families too. If they get hacked and they go out of business, it’s not just the owners. It’s everyone who has to go find a new job – it affects everyone.”
As A Trusted Security Advisor, He Provides Peace Of Mind
Bensinger knows what’s at stake when building a business. So, in 2020, when the popular software Orion was hacked by ransom- ware that breached the networks of federal government agencies, Bensinger was there with clear explanations, a plan and a listening ear. “In Phoenix, a lot of our clients got fraudulent claims for unemployment, including myself. I’ve had a lot of conversations with clients about how that happened, how I protect them, and whether there’s more they can do to protect themselves,” says Bensinger. In some cases, his clients just need to talk. “I do a lot of therapy!” he jokes, but the reality is he’s a trusted advisor who offers peace of mind to his clients.
Bringing full-scale protection to his clients also means going the extra mile and preventing issues before they happen, even if it requires completely new strategies. “My clients will ask me for solutions, and if it’s something I’ve never done before, I do a lot of research. It’s part of our service,” says Bensinger. “I’m a very curious person…I’ll see a problem and I’ll say, ‘I wonder if some- body has a solution for that.’ Then I’ll go look for it, and if it’s not there, I’ll build it.”
To mitigate risk, Bensinger’s team vets new vendors or software before implementing it in a business. Have they been hacked repeatedly? Have they made changes to protect themselves? Clients need to know the risk as networks and cyber security get more complex. Bensinger knows it takes a lot of effort for an IT professional to stay up-to-date on security trends, but that’s part of his team’s commitment to being a partner and advisor to clients.
Know What You Can Control And What You Can’t
Education is an essential component of Bensinger Consulting’s whole-solutions package; clients need to know what they can control and what they can’t. If a truck is intent on ramming into your home, you can’t control that. You can control how you respond, creating a solution that lasts. One of the biggest challenges his clients face moving forward is also one of their greatest workflow technology assets – the cloud. “Everything’s going to the cloud, whether you like it or not,” Bensinger says. Within a business, data and files are often in pieces, stored in various places across the net- work: project management, CRM, ERP or file stores. Teams attempt to duct tape their system together, leaving holes and vulnerabilities.
“The biggest thing for us nowadays is how do we secure that data? How do we back it up? If you look at your agreements
with Microsoft, Google or any provider, they are not responsible for your data,” Bensinger says. “So, when Microsoft has a big issue and they lose data or they get hacked, it’s the individual’s responsibility to maintain that data and have a backup of it. From the MSSP side, we want to make sure you can get data securely, but we also want to make sure your data stays intact, no matter where it’s at, so that if you or one of your providers experiences a cyber-attack, you can still safely access your files.”
As Arizona’s leading IT expert, Bensinger is sought after for speaking engagements, having shared the stage with distinguished celebrities and public figures to educate the public on current security trends. He is a frequent guest on FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS television stations for his security expertise. He’s the best-selling author of the book IT Solutions For Your Business, which explains how to effectively protect your business from cybercriminals, disgruntled employees or unscrupulous IT companies.
Bensinger knows that when businesses see their IT professional as a partner, advisor and essential team member, everyone succeeds. With every business that prioritizes security education and implements the right IT solutions, everyone benefits. “I have clients’ best interests in mind. I’m out to protect them because the way I look at it, if they grow, I grow with them and I will help them in any way,” says Bensinger. “It’s a mutual relationship. If your business flourishes, I’m going to go right along with you. I have very long-term clients because we have mutual goals. They want to protect their business, I want to protect their business. We build a relationship, and they know they can call me anytime.”
With commitment like that, we can all live in a safer world, and that’s been Ed Bensinger’s goal from the beginning.
Visit www.Bensingerconsulting.com for more information.