Dark Cubed CEO: An ‘SMB Mindset’ Means ‘Simple, Automated And Affordable’

A major problem in the cybersecurity industry is that products are often initially developed with deep-pocket enterprise customers in mind, says Vince Crisler, co-founder and CEO of Dark Cubed.


Vince Crisler, co-founder and CEO of Dark Cubed

The former chief information and security officer at the White House thinks complexity is the enemy of developing a successful cybersecurity strategy for small and midsize businesses.

So MSPs and other channel players need to develop an “anti-enterprise mindset” and adopt an “SMB mindset” that emphasizes a “simple, automated and affordable” security strategy for smaller customers.

That was the message from Vince Crisler, co-founder and CEO of Dark Cubed, to attendees at the XChange August 2022 conference in Denver, hosted by The Channel Company, parent of CRN.

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Crisler, who has worked with the Department of Homeland Security and Sandia National Laboratories to develop cyber protection programs for federal government agencies, said that cybersecurity officials just have to assume they’re not always going to prevent every attempted cyber intrusion.

“Fundamentally in cybersecurity, my philosophy is offense always wins and defense always loses, period,” Crisler said. “And no matter what you do, as a cyber vendor, you’re going to lose. So if you’re playing this game to win, you‘re starting in a bad position.”

Crisler, whose Alexandria, Va.-based company provides automated threat protection and blocking offerings for MSPs to sell to SMB customers, said a major problem in the cybersecurity industry is that products are often initially developed with deep-pocket enterprise customers in mind.

“Investors are in love with the enterprise” because of the money they can spend, said Crisler. “They do not like the SMBs. I can‘t tell you how many times in my company’s history I’ve been told you’re going the wrong direction and you need to focus on the enterprise.”

Bank of America alone spends about $1 billion a year on cybersecurity, according to Crisler. “They‘re looking at every category on Mitre Attack. They’re looking at all of these products. They’re driving investment decisions in the security market,’’ he said.

And the spending by Bank of America and other large corporations on cybersecurity is creating complexity and cost structures that smaller companies simply can’t afford, he said.

The “anti-enterprise mindset” involves, among other things, coming up with a security strategy that, with limited resources, makes it as “hard as possible for the bad guys” to inflict harm on SMBs, said Crisler.

MSPs working with SMBs should also review what’s at risk for smaller customers if they’re attacked and try to make it “hurt less” when they do lose. That’s the “SMB mindset,” Crisler said.

At his XChange session, Crisler elicited a few gasps from the audience when he said his company’s security offerings cost MSPs only $50 a month per firewall.

Dark Cubed provides automated threat protection and blocking capabilitie, via its SaaS platform hooked up to an MSP’s firewall of choice, Crisler said.

“We don’t provide a firewall,” Crisler later told CRN. “We provide [analysis] and blocking. It’s automated. It’s easy. And it’s affordable.”

Glen Coffield, CEO of Smart Guys Computers in Sanford, Fla., said Crisler’s philosophy of expecting to lose some cybersecurity battles is sound.

“It’s like anything else: You can lock the front door, but anyone can kick it in,” he said. “The odds are that if someone wants to get into your house bad enough, they’ll get in. Big companies spend all this money on cybersecurity and they still get broken into.”

He agreed it’s better for companies, especially smaller ones, to develop security strategies that discourage, though not necessarily prevent, cyberattacks.

“You need to make yourself a hard target,” Coffield said.