Difenda recognized as a Microsoft Security Excellence Awards finalist

Microsoft Security Excellence finalist for security service innovator and diversity in security, 2023

Difenda today announced it is a Security Service Innovator and Diversity in Security award finalist in the Microsoft Security Excellence Awards. The company was honored among a global field of industry leaders that demonstrated success across the security landscape during the past 12 months.  

“We are thrilled to have received two nominations in this year’s Microsoft Security Excellence Awards for Security Service Innovator and Diversity in Security. These are two areas that we have continued to focus on over the past 12 months to ensure the quality of our technical services, customer experience, and our employee experience,” said Derek Nugent, VP of Revenue at Difenda. “At Difenda we believe that diverse perspectives are critical for cybersecurity companies and our diversity is one of our competitive advantages when it comes to changing the game in cybersecurity services and the industry itself. These nominations reflect our commitment to delivering industry-leading security services powered by Microsoft and further build on our cybersecurity-first, Microsoft-only approach.”   

Security Service Innovator

The Microsoft Security Excellence Award for Security Services Innovator Award recognizes an MSSP that delivers an innovative and transformative security service to customers. The winner is exceptional at driving holistic end-to-end security strategies with customers using Microsoft security products.  

Difenda has a history of driving innovation in the cybersecurity space. We have been a Design Partner of Microsoft Sentinel and participated in Microsoft’s Worldwide Incubation Hub helping with Defender for IoT, Security Operations, and Identity. This helped contribute to the future of Microsoft’s security technology and management. By sharing input and feedback in the development of security tools, Difenda has ensured we can drive the best outcomes for our customers. 

Following the development of these projects, Difenda became one of the first organizations to launch a managed service for operational technology: MXDR for OT.

Being a leader in this space, Difenda created an OT Environment Assessment Report to provide more visibility into OT networks and actionable steps on how to improve their security posture. Helping our customers take actionable steps toward a stronger security environment. 

Deployment of MXDR for OT allowed our customers to discover OT/ICS crown jewel assets and added visibility into their environment. This provides the organization with better information to make security use cases, enhance playbook development and make better decisions for security outcomes in their environment. 

This solution and others highlight our commitment to the partner community, security-related initiatives and thought leadership within the security space. 

This past year Difenda converted many customers to the Microsoft Security stack, and we never shy away from a challenge. Even if it means architecting security environments that have never been done before. In 2022, we worked closely with Microsoft engineers to architect a solution that would integrate a complex, hybrid-cloud network where a security solution was not initially clear. 

Diversity in Security

As a proud, equal-opportunity employer, Difenda is committed to fostering, cultivating, and maintaining an inclusive and equitable culture. It has adopted diversity initiatives which include but are not limited to flexible work schedules to accommodate varying employee needs, funded training and certification programs, and supporting the immigration process for global employees with specialized talents. 

The Microsoft Security Excellence Award for Diversity in Security Award honors a MISA member that has demonstrated a significant commitment to enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion above and beyond the current trajectory of the industry. The winners foster diversity to better serve security customers and cultivate change. 

Today, women account for only 24% of the overall workforce in the cybersecurity industry. Difenda is actively working to close this gap. While we know there is still work to be done, we are proud to say that women make up 36% of Difenda’s workforce, including 32% of our level-one security operations team. But that’s not all, at Difenda, women always have a seat at the table. Currently, 60% of the revenue operations leadership team and 20% of the service operations leadership team is women.   

Why does this matter? Unilateral decision-making from one perspective is not just a representation problem; it’s a security problem. Diverse perspectives are critical for cybersecurity companies that face an ever-changing variety of threats. 

Because of this, Difenda recognizes the talent available in global markets and has been able to successfully recruit and support the immigration process for global employees with specialized talents. This has been extremely valuable and has helped us gain insight into new perspectives and ideas, contributing to our competitive corporate strategy.  

Going one step further, we work closely with various recruitment channels that offer accelerated training/certification programs to women, immigrants, and those new to the cyber space. We collaborate with these channels to identify possible job opportunities for entry-level talent, ensuring they have equal access to industry opportunities. 

About The Microsoft Security Excellence Awards 

At the Microsoft Security Excellence Awards on April 24, 2023, Microsoft will celebrate finalists in 11 award categories honoring partner trailblazers, solution innovators, customer and technology champions, and changemakers. This is the fourth year Microsoft is recognizing partners for their outstanding work in the security landscape. All finalists are members of the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA), an ecosystem of independent software vendors (ISVs) and managed security service providers (MSSPs) that have integrated their security products and services with Microsoft’s security technology.  

“I’m very pleased to extend my warmest congratulations to this year’s finalists for the Microsoft Security Excellence Awards. These are presented each year to recognize the outstanding achievements of our Microsoft Intelligent Security Association members as they improve customers’ ability to identify and respond to security threats. Our community is made up of the most reliable and trusted security vendors worldwide. This year we received hundreds of quality submissions from partners and Microsoft stakeholders, so this year’s finalists stood out in a crowd of exceptional talent. It’s my pleasure to acknowledge and celebrate their work over the past year,” said Maria Thomson, Microsoft Intelligent Security Association Lead. 

MISA was established to bring together Microsoft leaders, ISVs, and MSSPs to work together to defeat security threats and make the world a safer place. The industry veterans in MISA and Microsoft will vote to select the winners of the Microsoft Security Excellence Awards, providing an opportunity for colleagues to honor their peers for delivering exceptional work to our shared customers. 

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Ken Perkins

Biography coming soon.

Megan Miller

Megan Miller’s energy and passion for learning flow into all aspects of her work. As the Growth Manager, North America, she brings a background in sciences which she has transitioned to the tech sector in her role at Difenda.

With a Bachelors of Science in Geology, Megan is a lifelong learner who is voracious about learning anything she can get her hands on about cybersecurity. Her positive energy has built a sales strategy with a focus on expanding in the United States while nurturing the Canadian presence. She is responsible for recruiting and training the sales team. Together with the company’s leadership, she creates the sales process and the company’s product strategy in order to better serve the customer base. This ensures that our customers have a highly trained and highly motivated team to help them every step of the way, Megan has completed Microsoft SC-900 training and working towards mastering Microsoft.

Whether at work or play, Megan is fully committed. She took her love of hockey all the way to the semi-professional level as a competitive hockey player. Megan loves all things sports including water skiing, scuba diving, cycling, and snowboarding. She also enjoys time with family and reading about alternative energy, innovation, and cybersecurity.

Natasha Phanor

As the Microsoft Partner Manager at Difenda, Natasha Phanor is responsible for driving growth within our Microsoft Partnership. With six years in the industry, she offers a fresh, energetic approach, and the ability to focus on our customer’s needs throughout the entire process. Natasha has the innate ability to foresee customer needs and solve problems before they arise, which creates a smooth road for each customer she encounters.

As the recipient of the Outstanding Services Partner of the Year Award in 2018, it is clear that Natasha responds quickly to customer needs, creates a platform for understanding a customer’s business requirements, and walks them through the process to ensure their complete satisfaction.

In her spare time, Natasha is as energetic and passionate as she is on the job. A self-proclaimed foodie-extraordinaire, she enjoys dinner parties, traveling, downhill skiing, hiking, biking, and reading. Natasha has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in Dance, from Ryerson University.

Lisa Templeton

Lisa Templeton is the perfect combination of human empathy and technological prowess. In her role as People Services Manager, she takes care of our team members to support them in their daily work, as well as on their personal life paths. Happy employees make for happy customers, and Lisa excels in giving our employees the tools they need for success in order to become the best possible versions of themselves. Along with employee formation, she shines in the service delivery support domain to continuously improve the process. Her 24 years of experience in IT Operations and Service Management help her create quality and efficiency at Difenda.

Having attended the Information Systems Management certificate program at Ryerson University, and with various other certifications to her credit, Lisa is perceptive and innovative when it comes to information technology, but also sensitive to the needs of her human constituents. Responsible for achieving the first privately owned company HDI Support Center certification in Canada, she has also designed and implemented Service Management excellence programs and 24×7 IT Operations departments for multiple IT organizations, and has created corporate rewards and recognition programs to keep her employees engaged and motivated.

On the personal side, Lisa passionately supports the cause of breast cancer research, having lost her mother to the disease. She reads voraciously in her spare time, and enjoys the art of home renovation. The summer months also bring time on her boat and exploring new hiking trails.

Miranda McCurdy

Miranda McCurdy uses her myriad super powers in all aspects of her job and personal life. As the Marketing Director at Difenda, Miranda McCurdy brings over a decade of experience to the table, which includes expertise in all facets of operations, brand management, and content marketing, as well as a multitude of successful strategies for the ever-expanding digital world. She is an expert at simplifying the message the company is trying to send, filling in gaps in the information, and strengthening the content in order to create compelling narratives that strengthen the brand and developing programs that bring teams together.

With several Addy Awards issued by the American Advertising Federation Cleveland to her credit, and her never say die attitude, Miranda understands both the broader picture and the minute details that are needed to successfully market a product. With her abilities to harness both the talent needed to spread the message, as well as to create the message itself, she is an integral cog in the company’s ability to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.

When she is not building a brand, she shares her ability to fill the gaps in her community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, and the Charleston Food Bank. In her spare time, Miranda spends time with her family, enjoys fitness and health, paddle boarding, reading, and arts and crafts.

Juliana Zaremba

Connections are the name of the game for Juliana Zaremba. As Strategic Partnerships Director, she is responsible for Difenda’s channel partnerships and the development and ownership of the channel partner program. She is also responsible for the global Microsoft Partnership, including the creation of strategic plans with MSFT contacts that will facilitate the continued growth of the business and establish certification and training protocols in all security technologies. Her role is multifaceted, as she acquires partners, manages relationships with them, and develops strategies that will provide cutting edge security solutions to our customer base. Another integral aspect of her job is to facilitate growth.

With a Bachelor’s in Math from the University of Waterloo and 14 years of experience from her previous roles at Herjavec Group and CDW, her cutting edge focus and ability to develop long-lasting relationships and strategies provides world class security solutions to our customer base.

Juliana thrives on connections outside of work as well. She is a philanthropist and contributor with Women4Change based in Hamilton. This group of local women is passionate about supporting local causes, and she focuses her efforts around Women in STEM. She is also a member of Club Italia in Niagara Falls and supports their youth events throughout the year.

When not managing the Microsoft Global partnership, Juliana enjoys reading, often reading several books at once. Juliana enjoys exploring the Niagara Escarpment with her family, as well as sharing meals and experiences with her extended family. Juliana’s competitive nature has her always trying new things, like Whoop band challenges and Peloton.

Jeffry Jacob

Biography Coming Soon