How CTO of SERHANT. reached a better cybersecurity mindset in the organization

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SERHANT. is a modern, successful New York-based and nationally expanding real estate, tech, and media company born out of the personal brand of American luxury real estate broker Ryan SERHANT. Renowned for its association with the widely popular TV series, SERHANT. is a promise to its clients of exceptional service. As the most followed real estate brand globally, SERHANT. envisions a future of living without boundaries. This company vision is reflected in its approach to daily operations, with teams of real estate agents and creatives delivering top-notch deals and content for consumers.

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Furthermore, guaranteeing the security of customer and employee data was mandatory, given the high-profile clients, million-dollar contracts, and the public image of a brand built on a reputation of a single man. We spoke with the company's Chief Technology Officer, Ryan Coyne, to learn more about how SERHANT. achieved this approach to security excellence in the most frictionless way possible.

The Challenge

Find a VPN tool employees want to use

Established in 2020, SERHANT. the company scaled remarkably fast. In a short span of time, the company's workforce grew to nearly a hundred individuals spread across 17 states in the US. Regardless of where they were connecting from, it was crucial that they do so securely and have access to the right resources in compliance with company policies. However, consistency in terms of performance was a struggle with previous VPN solutions.

The company's rapid growth, coupled with an increasing project load, necessitated efficiency at every step. As Coyne says, 

"If you expect your employees to behave securely, cybersecurity must be frictionless and require close to zero effort. Otherwise, users will try to find a way around it."

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Adding to the challenge was the fact that SERHANT. has yet to open more than a few permanent offices, meaning they couldn't manage and control Wi-Fi for all staff members. In this situation, a robust VPN solution was even more critical to prevent traffic from getting snooped on by external entities.

The first step toward awareness was recognizing that the company deals with sensitive information.

“Processed data sometimes includes contracts for properties in the hundreds of millions of dollars range along with the personal data of billionaires and celebrities of all types. The stakes were too high to depend on an unsecured connection.” 

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With the need to quickly address the issues of tools that users found too time-demanding or a VPN solution that simply wasn't working properly, the question was, could these benefits be merged into a single solution?

The Solution

Seamless security for undisturbed workflow

SERHANT.'s employees needed a solution that would allow them access to specific online resources without taking them away from their usual workflow. 

The criteria Coyne considered included traffic encryption, low latency when connected to a virtual private gateway, and the ability to restrict unauthorized user requests. Isolating sensitive traffic from the rest of the network was equally important, even for in-house connections.

"Human nature means that people do what's easiest and fastest for them. So, we found and deployed a super easy solution for our staff to log into and get set up."

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As long as the network access solution matches the team's needs and operates according to security settings and rules, it brings confidence to the CTO's role. The priority was ensuring protected connections and making the team feel secure enough to comply with security requirements.

The connection location, or whether the staff connected to a non-corporate server, became irrelevant as long as they ran the security application.

Why choose NordLayer

The founder and CEO of SERHANT., a global traveler and media personality, often needed to connect to platforms in countries with restricted access – an issue that demanded immediate resolution. 

Ensuring the continuity of business processes and the full functionality of the internet were problems easily addressed by NordLayer. The challenge, however, was the need to install the solution, particularly as the CEO and his team were already aboard a flight, preparing for take-off.

Coyne recalls, “It was 9 PM, a few minutes before the flight, when I remembered Ryan and his personal vlogger needed a solution that would allow them to access a few mainstream social media tools that were restricted at their destination, and needed to install NordLayer before takeoff. Me sitting at home and them being on the plane seemed like a make-or-break challenge. 

A quick group text with instructions sent the link to the NordLayer iOS app and a reminder of the steps to connect. In just a few minutes, they downloaded and set up the application. All I had to do was casually text them both to be sure they’d be good for the rest of the trip. Not a single follow-up question reached me regarding the VPN connection during their time abroad.”

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For a CTO, knowing that a solution can be used correctly and deployed seamlessly at the last minute without causing stress is invaluable. Key security requirements can be achieved with just one tool:

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Clearly, the less troubled the employees are, the more at ease the person responsible for cybersecurity in the organization can be.

The Outcome

Security-first achieved by simplicity

Working with social media and celebrities, producing television shows, creating high-quality content, and closing multi-million dollar deals can create a dynamic and hectic environment. However, the one person who must remain focused and calm is the CTO. Their goal is to ensure every piece of information is secure and every team member can perform at their best.

Security is the top priority at SERHANT., and how it’s achieved is secondary. Some employees prefer to bypass corporate filters when going online, yet they want to be sure they are safe on the internet. With NordLayer, users can run a company VPN solution and connect to any secure server because what truly matters is protection.

“NordLayer is excellent because it doesn't limit you. Users can connect to the dedicated corporate server or other countries if needed to be securely protected by VPN, even if they don't want to go through the corporate filter,” says Coyne.

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Moreover, simple, easily attainable security that effectively protects the company network is a relief to the security team and those behind it.

“Adoption is the most important thing. If it's not super simple, then people will not use it. And NordLayer is super simple. It's just a click or a tap, and you are good to go.”

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Organizations can invest in, deploy, and promote various tools and solutions to meet their cybersecurity strategy goals. However, if the users find a way to sidestep security requirements because they are inconvenient and time-consuming, the investments in security will never yield the expected returns.

Pro cybersecurity tips

Determining priorities and starting with the right security practices can be challenging. While the list of recommendations is extensive, it's always beneficial to heed the advice of cybersecurity experts who deal with digital issues daily and know where to focus first. Ryan Coyne, the CTO at SERHANT., is one such cybersecurity practitioner.

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SERHANT.'s case study is among the many testimonials of NordLayer's solution. It’s an easy-to-start, deploy, and use secure network access solution that doesn’t disrupt the daily workflow. Secure traffic, encrypted connections, and smooth performance deliver significant results to the business. But don't just take our word for it – try it yourself. Reach out to our Sales team and discover the best plan for your organization today. We're confident it will be another success story to share.

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