Cybersecurity And The Human Element: Creating Realistic Solutions For A Safer Digital World

Like any tech industry entrepreneur, I love technology and have since I was just 10 years old. Technology has allowed us to do absolutely incredible things on a global scale and has improved our way of life exponentially on a day-to-day level. Yet with all the benefits a more technology-rich and interconnected life brings, it also exposes us to risk as bad actors increasingly seek to take advantage of that interconnectivity. Every day, consumers benefitting from the increasingly digital world are also the ones who most often fall victim.

In the U.S. alone, 143 million consumers — more than half the adult population that is active online — were victims of cybercrime last year, according to the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report. U.S. consumers’ losses totaled $19.4 billion, and, on average, each victim lost nearly 20 hours dealing with the fallout.

These alarming stats make one thing clear: Cybersecurity literacy and readiness are lacking when they need to be growing. Unlike big companies with IT departments and resources dedicated to protecting cybersecurity, many consumers aren’t tech savvy and have little understanding of the complex world of cyberattacks, let alone what to do to combat them. To meet and withstand today’s online threats, consumers don’t just need better cybersecurity technology — they need realistic solutions. They need solutions that account for the ways they use their technology — on their computers, their phones and in the interconnected devices all around them. They need solutions that they understand and feel comfortable using. They need solutions that work.

Technology leaders, those of us with the skills and capacity to do something, need to pay more attention to people and how they use technology to design solutions that better confront the human element of cybersecurity. We also need to improve awareness of digital security threats by making technology and cybersecurity literacy easier and more accessible for everyone.

Considering The Human Element

Fraud and cybercrime are extremely common and can take on a wide variety of forms, from obvious scams to sophisticated and highly personalized attacks. Often, the subtle cause behind a security breach is human error (e.g., using a weak password, clicking a suspicious link, failing to download security updates, etc.).

As consumers become more and more comfortable making purchases, paying bills and sharing sensitive personal information online through digital interactions with their health care providers, financial services institutions and government entities, human factors can become serious vulnerabilities. Take passwords, for example. While we know that complex, frequently changed passwords are more secure, the distinctly human tendency to prioritize efficiency and convenience leads many to take shortcuts like using weak passwords because they are easy to remember or applying the same passwords to everything.

Cyberattackers rely heavily on user interaction and normal human behaviors like complacency and a desire for efficiency and convenience. Consumers need solutions that help make it easy for them to be more secure, ones that don’t ignore but rather embrace these human tendencies because security shouldn’t be a burden — it should be built in.

Developing Realistic Solutions

We can’t change human nature, but we can change technology to cut down on the shockingly high number of consumers who fall victim to an attack. All too often, people assume that if they’re using their phones, their desktops at work, the wearable devices on their wrists or their voice-enabled devices on their kitchen countertops that they’re safe. They don’t think twice. We need to design solutions that 1) educate consumers about the threats that exist as they interact with this technology, 2) empower them with the tools they need and 3) make it easy for them to use those tools.

I hate to use a cliché, but knowledge actually is power when it comes to staying safe in our interconnected world. If consumers know about potential threats to unsecured or outdated internet of things devices, understand how malware or ransomware can infiltrate a computer through an unwitting click of a link and have insight into password hacks, they’ll naturally be more equipped to avoid them. Software developers have an opportunity to build education into and around their technology as an extra line of defense.

When it comes to the technology itself, we often jump straight into complex software development without stopping to think about the natural tendencies of the consumers using that tech. Security doesn’t need to be overwhelming and scary. As technology leaders, we have a responsibility to make it much easier for consumers to both understand cybersecurity threats and take steps to make the digital world safer for themselves and their families. That means committing to rethinking and simplifying product design to account for human factors, with more mobile, user-friendly designs, better interfaces and more engaging, accessible content.

The best way for consumers to confront cybersecurity threats and prevent the damage associated with a security breach is to be prepared with the proper knowledge and smart tools.

Click to read the Forbes article.

From The Ground Up, To The Corner Office And Back Again: Why I left The C-Suite For A New Startup
Post written by Hari Ravichandran

You hear a lot about the evolution from tech entrepreneur to CEO but less about the journey the other way around. My career in tech began in 1997 when I started a small web consulting business that I would spend the next two decades building into Endurance International Group, a publicly traded company with more than 3,500 employees globally. With that experience behind me, I’ve switched gears and am back to my entrepreneurial roots, building a new digital security company from the ground up.

Although I have always considered myself an entrepreneur, this unique opportunity to do it all again has given me a new perspective on entrepreneurship and yielded some insights that are causing me to think very differently this time around. Below are some of the biggest takeaways from my journey from entrepreneur to CEO and three things I’m focusing on now that I’m back in the startup world.

1. Staying Open To Change

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved solving problems and assembling things. Spending the last 21 years building a business, taking it public and growing to over $1 billion in revenue was an endeavor I was passionate about, but it turns out being the CEO of a publicly traded company wasn’t what truly motivated me. About two-and-a-half years into what theoretically ought to have been the pinnacle of my career, I realized, a little to my surprise and chagrin, that it just wasn’t the right job for me. I missed the nitty-gritty work of creating things, of being close to consumers’ needs and developing disruptive new software to meet them.

It took time, but in the end, I realized that the things I was best at and most excited about were happening outside the boardroom.

It’s important to know yourself and keep an open mind. Careers don’t need to be (and often aren’t) linear, but fixating on where we want to get — to a certain title or valuation or stock price — becomes self-limiting and makes it easy to lose sight of what got you started in the first place. Challenge yourself to stay open to opportunity and different ways of thinking. It will only expand your horizons.

2. Keeping Perspective

When you’re first starting a business and you’re scraping by, you’re moving fast and don’t yet have a lot to lose, so it’s much easier to be brave. Sometimes you’re brave out of necessity. You take big risks because, in the moment, they’re your only option. In 1997, when I started my first business with my savings as seed money and a team of one, every day felt like a fight for survival. It wasn’t even about fear — just making the best choices I could and living to fight another day.

There is a certain thrill in the urgency of starting something new, but over the course of my career, I’ve learned that bravery isn’t just about the willingness to embrace risk. Sometimes bravery is having the patience and restraint to say no, to take a step back and not go after every opportunity. When you are just starting out, the horizon seems much smaller and your instinct is to move as fast as possible. This time around, I understand the value of taking a longer view and having the patience to build things the right way from the beginning.

3. Getting Culture Right

It’s no secret that startups tend to undervalue culture. Today we can point to myriad examples of promising tech startups with huge valuations crippled by underlying cultural issues. In some of the worst cases, leaders actively fostered climates and behaviors that led to their undoing, but it doesn’t take malintent to create serious problems. For many entrepreneurs, culture is simply an afterthought, a “nice to have” that takes a back seat to strategy, profitability and growth. While this approach may work well enough in the short term, it creates significant barriers to scale down the road.

To build a business with real, sustainable value and bring it to scale, you have to get the culture right from the onset. Culture undergirds everything businesses need to be successful: their values, codes of conduct, modes of operation and how people interact with each other, solve problems and work together every day. And the absence of a bad culture does not confer the value of a good one.

For me, “getting culture right” means creating an environment that is built on and engenders mutual respect and trust, integration, inclusivity and civility. Culture starts with people. Hiring the right ones is critical, but it can be tricky in tech. In fast-growing startups, it is easy to get caught up in hiring for specific “hard” skills (e.g., expertise in systems engineering, computer modeling, data science). Don’t fall into that trap. Communication styles, interpersonal skills, teamwork and diversity — picking people you can work side by side with and whom you can empower — are hugely important for building the right culture and need to be part of your decision making from the beginning. Now more than ever, I believe that building and maintaining a strong culture from the start lays the foundation for scale.

Remember, building something new is not the same thing as starting from scratch. Your past experiences — the lessons, successes, failures, mistakes and things that turned out only OK — are all valuable resources. Bring them with you. Everything you’ve learned along the way will serve you well and bring value to any new venture.

Click here to view PDF of article: Forbes Tech Council

SiteLock Announces Acquisition by ABRY Partners

Investment from prominent private equity firm positions SiteLock to accelerate company growth and product innovation

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA — April 12, 2018 – SiteLock, a global leader in website security solutions, today announced its acquisition by ABRY Partners (“ABRY”), a leading private equity firm.

Founded in 2008, SiteLock’s mission is to protect organizations from ever evolving cyber security threats. SiteLock is the leading provider of cloud-based, comprehensive website security solutions, and its innovative and award-winning products protect more than 12 million websites globally. In 2017, SiteLock was named by Deloitte as the fastest growing software company in Arizona for the third consecutive year, and the fastest growing company in Arizona overall.

“We are excited to partner with SiteLock to support their continued innovation of new products and solutions both organically and inorganically,” said Brian St. Jean, Partner at ABRY Partners. “As threats become more complex and frequent, organizations need a comprehensive and reliable solution to protect their online presence. We believe SiteLock is well positioned to continue to be the go-to partner for website security needs.”

“The investment from ABRY Partners is a testament to our culture of innovation and dedication to building a reliable platform to protect organizations across the globe,” said SiteLock Chief Executive Officer Neill Feather. “Cyber security attacks continue to increase at an unprecedented pace. During the fourth quarter of 2017 the average website experienced more than 44 attacks per day, and there was a 90 percent rise in the number of businesses targeted by ransomware for a total $5 billion financial impact. We are excited to work with the team at ABRY to continue to develop new products and solutions to support and protect our customers.”

“We’re grateful to all our employees and to Unitedweb for their investment in our growth,” continued Feather. “Together with the Unitedweb team we have pioneered the website security industry and made solutions and protection accessible to businesses of all sizes and types.”

“We’re proud to have supported SiteLock for more than 10 years as it has grown to become the leading provider of website security solutions,” said Unitedweb Chief Executive Officer Tomas Gorny. “We’re excited to see what’s next for their growing team and what they accomplish in partnership with ABRY Partners.”

About SiteLock

SiteLock, the Global Leader in business website security solutions, is the only web security solution to offer complete, cloud-based website protection. Its 360-degree monitoring finds and fixes threats, prevents future attacks, accelerates website performance and meets PCI compliance standards for businesses of all sizes. Founded in 2008, the company has an industry leading threat database and protects over 12 million websites worldwide. For more information, please visit sitelock.com.

About ABRY Partners

ABRY is one of the most experienced media, communications, and business and information services sector focused private equity investment firms in North America. Since their founding in 1989, they have completed over $62 billion of leveraged transactions (including many roll-up investment strategies) and other private equity, mezzanine or preferred equity investments. Currently, they manage over $5.0 billion of capital in their active funds.

About Unitedweb

Unitedweb was founded in 2008. Unitedweb owns diversified group of technology companies. It primary focuses on early stage investments.