I first met Mike Malatesta at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee last December. The YPO had invited me to present "Cybersecurity for Life" at the Lubar Entrepreneur Center, and Mike was in attendance. Shortly after that, he became a TDS client, and we became friends.
Mike's an intellectually curious type, especially when it comes to people doing things that make a difference for others. He hosts a popular podcast series called "How'd It Happen?" that digs into the heart of the matter - people and change. I recommend it to anyone interested in fresh ideas and the people that figure out how to bring those ideas to life.
But I was also a little unnerved. I've done a ton of interviews and have no problem with a mic and audience when talking about risk and digital technology. This format though was about me and how my life's experiences would bring me to today.
The result was aired on April 15th and is an over one hour talk that spans my career. From commercial pilot and flight instructor in my teens to joining the start-up team at People Express Airlines, then founding an airline support company, working at Wall Street firms in risk and technology, and finally to founding TDS in 2013. Mike covers the chapters better than Cliffs Notes ever could, I'm sure.
Episode 93 of the "How'd It Happen" podcast hosted by Mike Malatesta.
I feel privileged to have been on Mike's show. His ability to draw insightful detail from his subject within the context of a broad overall story is remarkable. For me, the podcast episode is part of my life's record as a concise summary of the most impressionable and meaningful experiences in my professional life.
The podcast is over an hour and if you're just interested in the part about TDS, it starts at about 34:30.
The full transcript is below:
In this episode, Mike welcomes Brad Deflin, the founder and CEO of Total Digital Security, a cybersecurity firm that provides private clients and families with enterprise-grade solutions for their personal technology and information.
Brad began his career as an airline pilot for People Express before co-founding an airline ground support company that provided fueling, cleaning and other services to airlines operating from second-tier airports.
After selling that business, Brad became a wealth advisor to high net worth clients. His work in that arena helped him see the wide gap that existed between the cybersecurity solutions available to businesses, and the less extensive options available to individuals.
He made it his purpose to eliminate that gap.
I'm Joe Dinucci, Mike's podcast producer and blog collaborator and will cover a ton of great stuff in this episode like why he sees the internet today as the modern-day day pickpocket and why 99.9% of people haven't protected themselves from these thieves, how the combination of the change on the internet from Moore's law and the network effect have exceeded humans ability to adapt, how cybercrime is expected to steal more than six trillion dollars in 2021, and most importantly how you can take a number of simple inexpensive steps to significantly decrease your chances of becoming a cybercrime victim.
How’d It Happen?
MM: I met well actually this is the first guy that I've actually not met Brad, but I became aware of Brad a couple months ago. We were at a YPO event and Brad and his company were presenting to us about cybersecurity issues and scaring the crap out of us and I came out of that that event thinking I need to find out more. I need to get ahold of this guy, and I need to find out more. So, I did, and I ended up getting with Brad's help and his team's help, my own personal network set up at my house, which is made me feel similar to what we most of us have at work, but probably don't have at home, which is a secure encrypted network for all of our email and internet traffic.
So, I thought to myself well if you is that compelling to get me to act that quickly then I have an obligation to learn more about Brad and to bring his stories to all of you. So that's what's got us here. And I'm really looking forward to finding out more.
Brad I start every one of my shows with the same question and that is how did it happen for you?
BD: How did it happen for me? I was actually a commercial airline pilot as a young man. I got my commercial license on my 18th birthday. And I was on a fast track to becoming an airline pilot for a large air carrier.
During the early 80s, when Ronald Reagan was first coming into office interest rates were very high. The economy was not doing well. There was a lot of malaise is the word that used back then and the outlook for the airline industry was not that great.
However, Ronald Reagan deregulated the industry and that opened up a lot of opportunity. And so, while I came out of university not so optimistic suddenly, there was a range of opportunities that were really interesting and I ended up at People Express Airlines, which was a start-up in 1981.
It was really the introduction of low fares no-frills airlines. They had a model that wasn't flying from LaGuardia to Miami, but they would fly from Newark to Palm Beach, or Melbourne, or some of these sorts of off-market destinations. They created a whole new market in the industry. And when I was there, I was able to observe one of the greatest leaders and one of the greatest communicators that I've ever seen in my life, even to this day.
I was very blessed to be in a position to have that kind of influence. His name was Donald Burr, Don Burr, and he was the founder and CEO of People Express Airlines at the age of maybe 40 years old. He’s a very charismatic individual that had all the elements of leadership that you would want to see, so in my early career, and as an impressionable young man, I was greatly influenced by his philosophy, by his approach to business, by his enthusiasm, about his commitment to quality, and I've held that close since then throughout the last many many years.
MM: So yeah, I have a lot of questions there. But then so let me just start before age 18. What is it about flying that gets your attention. Was it a family thing or how did you get into that? When did you start in order to become a pilot at age? 18.?
BD: As a young boy with my family, my brother and my parents, we flew around the world a lot. My father was an international businessman and I just loved the whole experience. It was I would say, you know kind of luxurious and romantic and you know was relatively new with the big Boeing Jets and then we would fly into some, you know, exotic locales on other types of airplanes and I just loved the whole experience.
So that's all I ever wanted to do. I think there's also some of it in the blood. I know that some of the folks that I went to flight school with, their parents were pilots whether it be professional or just you know for recreation.
My aunt was one of the first female pilots in the country located in Western Pennsylvania. She got her instrument rating as a young lady and this must have been you know, perhaps this was probably the 40s and that was a real distinct accomplishment.
But I think that there's something in the blood that just drives us to have a love for aviation and that certainly I think is in my case.
MM: I think I read that you actually went to University for Aeronautics or something along those lines, Brad.
BD: I did. I wanted to get all of my licenses and type ratings. I also wanted to get a University degree and uniquely Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach offers all of that. So that's where I went and I was able to get my 4-year degree expand, you know, my academic studies and then really have a concentration on the flight aspect of it as well.
MM: Okay, and this first there are a couple of things in this that first opportunity with people's that That intrigued me first was the way you were talking about Burr as a leader and I want to get a little bit more into that in the second was, you know, excuse me that this low fare low frill model and I so I'm going to start with the second how curious about how that reality sort of stood up with this ideal that you had had. About being a commercial pilot was it was it aligned or was it a lot different or how was that?
BD: Yeah. I know that's a really good question because it was very different from when people got dressed up to get on an airline, and the food was special, and the entire experience was very civil and special. During low fare no frills - we were figuring it out there. You know, there was certain chaos there. Were there were a lot of challenges. Changes that the industry didn't have before in a regulated environment the government determined what you charged per seat per mile, what kind of profitability the air carrier was going to have, and crews and aircraft were not scheduled really to their capacity. So, without the regulatory environment crews and aircraft could be scheduled to their capacity which meant a lot more.
We see a lot more activity a redesign what was called the hub and spoke system, versus direct from market to market. Managing all of that change certainly was challenging. On, you know, one hand you could say maybe it was a little bit of a disappointment to see it go from something that was special to something that you know, maybe wasn't so special but on the other hand, I also saw that it opened markets to people that that would have otherwise never had the opportunity to travel.
Seriously, we had passengers that were flying from Buffalo to Sarasota to see you know, they're dying grandmother sort of thing and they would not have been able to do that. If the fares were not where we had driven them to be so there were two sides to the coin. I felt that it was inevitable just the market economics and market economy and that the market would figure these things. Things out that is how to have low fares low frills, but still some sense of a special experience for the passenger over the course of their journey.
I think we've been you know successful in some level terribly unsuccessful on another level, you know, the airline industry is one of the most complicated economic models to manage. You have a lot of variable costs - fuel. You have a lot of labor. Your inventory parishes every time you close the cabin door. So, from a marketing standpoint, you've got to sell as much of that as you can up front. Keep those airplanes full, keep them in the air when an airplane is not in the air, it's essentially a liability. I think we're still figuring out how to do that in a really high-quality whey, they can be affordable to anyone that wants to travel.
MM: Yeah, so you've see you basically pointed out that the deregulated model basically democratized flying for a much larger portion of the population. But at the same time it it's you know, it essentially disrupted all of the I suppose I mean all of the status quo for sure but also had to be a huge mindset change for the people who you worked with who maybe weren't new to it. Like you were I would imagine I don't know.
BD: For sure. And there was a lot of push back by a lot of people. The older generation felt that an age where flying was something special and unique, you know was gone and there was a of nostalgia for that. On the other hand, you know they were checking in every day to travel with the low fares.
MM: yeah. Well, sort of like Amazon thing, right exactly. Amazon is killing retail, but I'm going to get my what I want on. Talking about but I was I'm thinking about all of the sort of antagonistic. I guess antagonistic Aura around the relationships between Airline management and airline pilots and and staff it it's not a it's not an ongoing thing, but it seems to be a recurring thing and you spoke so highly of Don. Who was doing something really hard, you know riding the wave of something new. So that's all that's complicated the deregulated environment, but also disrupting an industry and relying on people who were in that disrupted past, I guess to move forward and yet he did so in a way that obviously impacted you positive. But can you get into some specifics that you remember about what exactly he was doing that made you want to follow?
BD: Yes. Well, you know the brand People Express says it all people sometimes say People's Express and he said no, we're not the Communist airline to the contrary. It was an employee-owned company. It was all about people. It really was. It was a very sincere day-to-day aspect to the culture that was very focused on customer service, was very focused on team mates, was really focused on leadership skills, communication skills, developing individuals, trusting individuals, empowering individuals. So, it was an environment where if you wanted to work hard and you wanted to work smart, it was just limitless in terms of opportunity. And it was very flat. The organization only had four levels to it and the bottom level could get to the top level anytime at wanted to in a very sincere and genuine way.
There were a lot of young people that were ambitious, smart, that weren't afraid to work hard. We're interested in being able to do something different and special and to be able to do that in an environment where they were respected and where they were empowered with this opportunity to do what they felt could contribute to the overall experience for the firm and the passengers.
It was just a really an energized environment where people just felt they could do anything and so as a leader, he was able to channel that whether it be opening up so many markets so quickly, or bringing on a 747 when you know, we had never worked one-on-one before and initiating Newark to London at a hundred and $49 growing the airline at a clip that you know challenged every element of our fabric every single day. But again, within the context where the team the individuals and the team worked together, so well and their hearts were in it to the degree that we were able to get it done.
Now, you know where their mistakes and did was were some experiences not what we wanted them to be for sure. No question and there was an element with Don Bur well we felt, you know, we're growing too fast and he had instilled such a core element of customer service across the firm that when we weren't able to deliver it to the standards that we wanted to hold ourselves up to it became enormously difficult to operate in that kind of environment and that's a reflection of the last you know year or so. I'm thinking 1987-1988 where growth got out of hand. employees could not keep their arms around it and what had become the fastest growing company in history People Express reached a billion dollars in Revenue faster than Apple computer did and so that growth got away from us and we're again when you had an employee base they cared so much about what they were doing and the quality of that experience it became I think unhinged and that's when ultimately Frank Lorenzo came in and acquired People Express.
Frank Lorenzo really was the antithesis to Don burr from a leadership style from an employee relationship element from so many they had worked together and there's a very interesting story between these two characters being in there, you know weddings respectively and having worked together been good friends and then being, you know, really kind of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader's they were refer to each other and that just turned everything really ugly after a period where it was so wonderful, but that was the experience but still, you know, those early days and those early accomplishments and to be in a position to have that experience at that age never left me to even to now.
Brad Deflin with People Express's first 747 to London.
MM: Frank Lorenzo. Did he end up running Eastern Airlines?
BD: Lorenzo did not, that was Frank Borman. Frank Borman, the ex-astronaut ran Eastern. That's really the case study around airline employee versus airline management. That's really where it got is probably as bad as it ever. Frank Lorenzo started at Texas Air with Don Burr, and he went on to acquire Continental and piece together, you know a massive airline that is still among the majors today.
MM: Okay, and you? You remain a flight instructor?
BD: I do not any. Your license will never expire ,your medicals do and your currency does,. but when you have a license, you always have it ,so I still have those licenses. But I always say flying is something you want to be 110 percent proficient at. I got so busy and business and family and what have you that I didn't have a chance to stay a hundred and ten percent proficient. So, I'll still fly with friends and I'll still do it for fun every once in a while, but there's really no professional or frequency to what I do in the airplane.
MM: Okay, and that hundred and ten percent proficiency makes me want to go on a tangent. If you don't mind since you're the only commercial airline pilot that I've had on my show so far. I'm curious to get your perspective on the Boeing Max the I've read a lot about the circumstances that may or may not have contributed to the two crashes and I'm sure our I'm thinking that you probably have as well because that's probably curiosity. It doesn't leave a person but I'm so I'm just curious about if you don't mind talking a little bit about that from your perspective
BD: Sure, and you're right Mike when it's in your blood. It really never leaves. I'm still a student at the industry. And I can still spot any airplane in the sky amazed my kids all the time. If I hear the buzzing of an airplane might my eyes go up.
So, the Boeing 737, you know first, I think the story starts with corporate culture. It just has to because that's really what went wrong there. I understand the redesign. I understand the adding of the engines what that did to the center of gravity of the airplane what they had to do to adjust some software and retrain Pilots. But the culture of I think the Cockiness the I think they just got way too far over their skis and terms at Boeing in terms of what they thought they could get away from with what they thought was right to do profit in revenues versus protecting the brand and delivering the highest quality.
I think it has to come back to Boeing even though I think the situation could have been An entirely manageable from a technical standpoint from the aircraft itself from training the crews from getting that right. It's an incredibly unfortunate as to what happened. But it comes back to again, you know, it's people how you manage people and how when that when the rubber hits the road, you know, they're going to show up and what the repercussions potentially will be when they don't.
MM: It's interesting you bring that up because As I've read, you know the difference between McDonnell Douglas and Boeing when it came to the to culture and how it was actually the McDonnell Douglas culture that took over but a very accounting Finance focused approach as opposed to maybe some of the other things that should be considered when you're building something like.
BD: That right sort of the commercial aspect. You know publicly owned stock looking for you know, the fundamentals that the stock market is going to look for managing that within the context of the expenses of delivering a really quality safe product that's going to preserve the quality of the brand going forward. So huge, you know, in the aftermath a lot of leadership out of work now, which is probably the right thing. They've got a huge challenge from the ground up to rebuild the culture. It's such a great company Boeing is it's you know, one of the gems of the US economy and I'm sure it will survive but the work is cut out for them. Hopefully these lessons are learned as hard as they are and they'll just be better for word for it going forward and all of the manufacturers will be better for going forward. That's what you've got to.
MM: Yeah for sure. Certainly, can't have things like happened happen, right? You just can't that's no good for anybody. So you moved away from being a pilot and you moved into Banking and wealth management what precipitated that move for you.
BD: It’s kind of a convoluted road. I'll tell you that when I was at People Express and I was in a position to go out to the markets like is the first flight out to investigate the new markets the new destinations for our for our system and then get everything done so that it would receive the first airplane and turn it around and send it back out full. So I learned, you know so much and that experience all these markets across the country and so deregulation was spreading it was coming into airports that were mature and less than mature, but regardless the model it People Express was to vendor third-party out a lot of the services that were traditionally done internally or vertically in the regulated market. So that would be ground handling. That would be commissary that would be fueling that would be a whole service and support a whole sort of slew of things suddenly. We're being contracted out but at these destination airports those contracted Services were not available. Well, it was Eastern. It was dealt it was American. It was United. They had their own work forces. They were not going to share those workforces to help support our airplanes coming in and out. And so I started a company in 1986. I think I left People Express and I started a company to act as ground support service for upstart Airlines so that the New York errors and Midway expresses and suddenly all of these new. Unregulated part 121 air carriers when they came into a market ,they had somebody to call to say okay. We're going to have four flights a day once a 737 three of them are 727s. We need to have those airplanes met. We need to have them cleaned. We need to have the bags taken off. We need to have them refueled. We need to have snacks and beverages restocked and made that airplane available to turn around with another. Are you know 150 or 200 people on board for the next flight out? And so I did that through the late 80s and sold that business to my partner and during the transaction. I got to know some people and Banking and in short order. I felt that that was interesting that is Wall Street financial services, and I eventually ended up at Merrill Lynch in the late 80s. As what they called a Financial Consultant and so with my business experience and my network my interest in the capital markets, and the other thing was that I had been introduced to personal technology over the course of the 80s. I had one of the very first IBM PCS in the early 80s, I built my business on a PC. I was fascinated by the power of a PC. I got to understand the scalability of All information versus more traditional business models and so when I came into Merrill Lynch I had certain attributes that I felt were helpful to help me carve out a practice and I did that in Palm Beach Florida between the late 80s and the late 90s. And so that's how I ended up in banking Adventure. It was private banking. It was family offices high-net-worth wealth management at Lehman Brothers at Wells Fargo a P Morgan even over the following that would be you know, 20 years 25 years following 25 years. I was in financial services before starting this business.
MM: Let me let me talk a little bit more ask you a little bit more about the aircraft servicing business now how That seemed like a really. I don't know short of Nietzsche Discovery for you, you know or maybe fortuitous right? You were sent to help put these services in place and you saw a need to do maybe more than just what people need it. Is that accurate or?
BD: That’s exactly right. It was what People Express needed and what others needed and to be a premier provider of those services with you know, I was coming from other side so I knew what the air carrier needed. I knew how they spoke. I knew how they thought I knew what the demands were. And so, I was able to build a business with an operating model that very much spoke to those demands. It was really successful from day one because you know, not very many others were doing it. But I think we also had the advantage that I knew what it took I had been there I had the experience again traveling all over the country opening these markets. I knew you know every nook and cranny of what it was going to take to be able to bring in a 200-passenger airplane turn that around in 20 minutes. Like it was brand-new get the bags to the Belt, you know in a reason we used to guarantee. Our you'll get will get our first bags to the Belt before your first customer gets there. We never called them passengers. We always call them customers. We are very much related to the to the demands that they had and undelivered, you know, every time because we wanted to because we knew Well to in because we had a team that knew how to communicate knew how to work together. Well, I think the previous experience frankly was around fractured unions, you know, if a union member could do one thing on an airplane another Union member couldn't do another thing on an airplane sort of thing. And so there were a lot of these conflicts that were artificially built in that was overall, you know hurting not only the passenger Experience but the ability for the airlines to compete economically.
MM: Yeah, and so you it's sort of like riding the deregulation wave in aircraft servicing right? Because that was all sort of regulated Union controlled and now there's an opportunity. Yeah,
BD: That’s right that's time. And I also and I saw how Dawn Burr managed pilots, flight attendants, reservations - typically unionized labor forces. In a way that they didn't want to become unionized. So, it wasn't anti-union. It was just different just a different place to go for a different agenda.
MM: Well, it's like you see you mentioned creating the right customer experience. You're creating the right team member experience. Why would they go look for something else or once I want you to do something different if it felt good. That's right. So, when you and your partner separated was that just do to you wanting to do something new or was there something in the Sort of in the mix there, or was it?
BD: I'll tell you at that time I was burned out on the industry to tell you the truth. I had worked really, really hard. I loved every minute of it. But you know one year, I was in hotels, you know, like 270 days of the year or something and airplanes, you know can get to be big and dirty, and smelly, and it's 24/7, labor-intensive. It never stops. And also the economics of the industry again being very, very difficult and at that period you could see what was happening to Eastern. Eastern Airlines was one of our largest customers one of our largest clients. We were essentially fixing all the equipment that their employees were vandalizing, you know, and did all sorts of work for Eastern, but they no longer could pay and I was just kind of done with the industry and I just felt that I wanted to do something different. I got in the industry because I love to fly, but then I was doing things that weren't necessarily around flying not that I wanted to get back in the cockpit, but I just was ready for something different.
MM: Well, it's you know, the specifics are different but it's a very common entrepreneurial story you get into you know a business, too. Solve a problem that you see right entrepreneurs are problem solvers. So, you get in to solve a problem. You love solving the problem and along the way while you're solving the problem all of these other things that are required to run that business start creeping in and they all have to be attended to right so it's not unusual after a while to have to be spending all your time on the things that aren't the reason you got into this in the first place nor the thing. You like or are best at or get the most energy from or whatever? Yeah, I've been there so no know exactly what you're talking about.
So, okay, so 25 years in the in the financial services and wealth management and then you make another change. So what was what was going on there that It Seems like by that time with those two careers, you most people would be pretty set with not snap financially or whatever but just set this is what I do this is who I am this is what I'm going to do.
BD: So my last year in the business was 2013, I was at JP Morgan I was dealing with ultra-high net worth clients around the world And I first saw cybercrime starting to come into personal technology into the personal lives of these people and it was not expected. It was really sort of a very fresh experience and but again my experience and technology and my understanding of how digital technology works. I had an epiphany of sorts and you Something before the deregulation democratized the airline industry or democratized air travel. I think that the internet democratized cyber risk where cyber risk for 20 or 30 years was really very much an Institutional concern. The motives were IP theft corporate espionage. Cyber warfare these types of things and the operators were kind of black hat or the 400-pound guy in the basement computer geek sort of thing. But when you understand technology, you can see how suddenly you know, these attacks were not just going to be aimed at it departments and servers, but they were going to be aimed at individuals and personal technology because they could their connected they hold a lot of very valuable information and it's a lot easier right the user and the technology is not as aware or educated or protected for that matter.
And so, I sensed that we were headed into a period a long drawn-out period where there was this huge dislocation and risk a symmetrical risk with all the advantages going to the hackers and that when you started to introduce digital currencies. And you started to see software becoming more and more powerful and that digital divide. If you will that gap is getting wider and wider you could say it's separating at exponential speeds that again there was going to be this long period of disruption and nobody was ready. Nobody knew how to talk about it. Nobody knew how to think about it.
Now the other side of that I understand the capital markets and You said earlier Mike, you know a market economy loves a big problem because a big problem can mean big profits. So it was clear to me in 2012-2013 that not only would we have a very big problem going forward but there would be opportunity around that problem and that the market economy would you know, and if you remember 2012 2013 there was no growth on the planet economically yet. There was a lot of cash, interest rates were very low money was easy and it was looking for places to go and it seemed natural that would come into this new hyper growth industry called cybercrime to protect and level the battlefield to aim at this dislocation this asymmetrical risk that was out there. I expected innovators to come forward that they would be well funded and they would have fresh. Worms from which to work they were not dealing like IBM or Cisco or Fortinet to the time where their business models were around selling hardware having large sales forces proprietary type products long-term service contracts expensive support type arrangements that it would become more as a service and that these innovators would leverage from a clean slate. Eight advantages that the incumbents couldn't necessarily take immediate advantage of including very powerful networks to remotely Center operations versus locally. And so total cost of ownership goes down to use artificial intelligence and machine learning for efficacy collaborative intelligence, which was really in 2012-2013. Really there was none of it because there were no trusting relationships to speak of but now you have a range of collaborative intelligence whether it be industry groups economic sectors, nations, even third-party aggregators always determining who are the bad guys. Where are they? What are they doing? What do they look like? And how do you stop them? So that combination told me that there was an opportunity to work as a platform. That would connect these. Do holders of the risk that did not have any protection or awareness at this point with really best-in-class enterprise-grade technology because it was going to be easy it was going to be affordable. It was as a service as a subscription type of model and that we the consumer was going to be the beneficiary of all these of all this capital investment and that we would be a place with a consumer could come to take full advantage of the Nation that we're you know very much seeing today. We knew that it was going to be more of a people problem that a technology problem. This technology is really taken care of itself again, because of this capital investment the size of the problem and the level of commitment to mitigating the problem is we have to make people more aware. Number one. We have to help them to learn what we say is to think critically there are exploits that we'll see in six or 12 months from today that we can't even think of right we can't even like could you have thought a year ago that a light bulb could be hacked in order to get into your Wi-Fi network, you know would you know would ring or about.
MM: Right and that's what I tell people because you mentioned those things all the time. I try people like, you know, hey everything that you have that's got a cool app to it. That's in your house. That's just another way for people to get in and you don't even know and they're like get out of here that already exist
BD: that It's an on-ramp to your network. And so, I use those headlines and you look at them, you know, and they're ridiculous. And I know that when I put them up there, but the fact is it's no joke. It's really serious stuff and there's a lot of pain out there. So anyway, so we've got to you know, raise the level of awareness. We what we have found here. Is that when you talk to people about the subject and you Equip them with some of the solutions they're learning curve and their ability to think critically around these matters goes up, like nothing else. It goes up much more than if you just train them it goes up much more than you just if you just use technology to protect them if you combine the two and you have a place where they can ask questions, we love what we call probing questions because it's indicative that they're beginning to get it and they're thinking critically so that when we The types of attacks that we can't even think of today, they're standing on their own two feet and they're able to make the right decisions at that moment that will work for them versus against them. And so that's the mission we've taken on since 2013 and that we've been doing ever.
MM: It’s a way to teach people that the their immediate reaction to put their head in the sand because It's so big of a problem is just like any other problem, right? You take down an elephant where they say one bite at a time. Right? So you everything can be learned. Even if you're not you can learn what you need to learn is what I took away even if you're not technically Adept particularly with you because you explain it in a way that we don't have to know the technology to understand how it.
BD: Works exactly. No, that's precisely the point and you're so spot-on. I think that when there is this sense that it's so daunting and so many people are like I can't I can't understand that and so you get some a lot of avoidance behavior and some apathy and then when you add on sort of the inevitability of it that can lull people into doing nothing, so it's Easy, you know, I mean, there are certain people that get it right away people that understand risk people that don't want to be on the wrong side of the lopsided risk, you know, I think that's why we've been so successful in the ultra-high-net-worth area. It's not because any of this is expensive. It's not it's really because those are the people that understand if risk is really lopsided. I'm either going to capitalize on it or I'm going to defend from it one or the other but they're not just going to muddle through a really lopsided situation. Others might not you know go to that depth of thinking and that's where the avoidance behavior comes in and then you have the element of kids which is a whole another conversation. So that's why I use the word Mission, you know, it's very much because we see it. We see it all we see the pain we see the damage and it's not just economic it there can be a lot of mental strength and it's just a really ugly, ugly situation and I feel like we're in a place that can be helpful and the feedback we get, you know from our clients is just so energizing that we are very much on a mission to help people understand. This is very real, but you know, we're here that's why we really try to sell by empowering, you know, it's not as easy as opposed to selling fear. There's a legitimate fear element. So we must include that like those crazy headlines you saw on my presentation Mike and you know, I'll send people articles like the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday a businessman lost four hundred and fifty thousand dollars due to an email breach really smart guy International businessman successful in every level but he says he feels like a dummy. You know now I think he might be in a position to recover from that, but we see people that are 60 65 70 75 that are not in a position to recover from something like that. And you know, that's where the stakes are really, really high. So that's our mission is to get out there make people under make people understand and accept it's real and then to empower them to think differently and use some of the solutions that have such value to them, you know, like a VPN is so affordable. And when you think that it makes you invisible and the internet right? I mean, it's magic makes you invisible all your activities banking browsing shopping investing you can Do it on a public Wi-Fi with a VPN your invisible and you don't have to be a computer geek to use a VPN anymore you used to but not anymore because it's an
MM: It's this whole thing reminds me of so many unintended consequence type things like this all started with the microchip, right? So the microchip meets so many things possible and then you've got Moore's Law and then you've got a network effect and all of a sudden What used to be a Mainframe computer that was guarded by highly technically trained people and not attached to the internet is now become the phone that you have in your hand that is connected to the internet. So, you've got Mainframe computing power which makes your life like tremendously more valuable. And efficient and all of those things including the connection to the internet, but that's also gotten the attention of all of these people who are like wow, you got a Mainframe computer with all your stuff right in here right in the head in your hand and you're going to let I can get into that and I couldn't get in. You know, what I would take me to get into that mainframe computer or would you know, so like the risk reward for them for the bad guys goes Really like through the roof in their.
BD: favor and it's a risk-reward environment for bad guys, like bad guys have never had before.
MM: Yeah, used to have to go into a bank and risk their life and a lot of prison time and now they That's true. Isn't that it's right that hard there were all the money out of the banks to so there's nothing there for those even if they get in
BD: there's really no physical or location limitations, you know, if you wanted to commit a crime in the past you kind of had to go there. You can be on your couch. If you're a cybercriminal, right? No borders. No Visa or passports required the downsides very limited. You don't have to carry a gun. The chances of getting caught or very low the upside can be virtually unlimited. I mean compared to robbing a bank certainly and your loot is in digital currency, which adds, you know, an anonymous element plus portability and liquidity.
MM: No huge bag to lug around.
BD: You’re not burying a chest in the sand. You're not pawning, or fencing, or laundering necessarily you're not you know, smuggling your cash back from Miami to Colombia so you can re-up and it crime is taken on a completely different complexion. So, what worries us is the ability for anyone anywhere regardless of their agenda. And you know, there are a lot of people in the world that feel maligned that feel left out. And that maybe they rightfully feel that way in a lot of cases. This is an out and you know, we see certain criminal cyber hacking gangs, you know, they're living the lifestyle and this is their retirement plan and they couldn't be more proud of what they're doing to create the wealth for themselves as they are, you know hacking unaware wealthy people in the United States,
MM: Right? Right and you mentioned the example before which everybody sort of brings up, you know, the person with no friends in their parent’s basement doing this and that and but that's not the way it is anymore. I mean, this is organized crime. This is this is complex corporate. Enterprises that are they every day they wake up. This is their mission to steal your stuff.
BD: Right. There's very much that element of the organized criminal cartel or Syndicate, you know, there's a crime as a service model where thes provides the viruses and the stolen email accounts and computer desktop and or the software for a browser login. So the individuals go to work and they split it with the house. It and there are entire rooms full of these places and they're distributed elements to workers that do this. I don't think there's any line of demarcation between cyber criminals and the Russian military or the North Korean military for that matter. They're very much a United Force. But there's also the everyday Street Thug that is finding. It's easier. It's more profitable. And you know, like I like in what happens on public Wi-Fi size where you get, you know, kind of a street Thug just collecting public Wi-Fi information to try to hack bank accounts. We have that's kind of a modern-day pickpocket. If you will, right? It's a digital version now here you don't have to go up to somebody you don't have to touch them. They're not going to see you and they're probably not going to know something bad happened for some period of time afterwards. So why would you be a pickpocket if you could just do this in a much more sort of? Way, so we're seeing where some of these more traditional street thugs or you know the creep which is even worse. We get certain cases. They're some of the worst ones where people have been stalked or there's been an element of skulking whether it be a Boyfriend/Girlfriend a divorce gone bad or like we say the creep down the street where an individual's life is infected. By this element and the mental strain that that creates. I mean we've seen very reasonable normal productive people become incredibly paranoid not knowing what's real who to trust and really struggling with the overall aftermath of these things. So, the criminal element is now, you know across the board from very organized professionals to treat. Channel street thugs to the low life that has an agenda with somebody and everything between and I don't know we don't see that abating; you know any time real soon. We still feel there's some sort of a climactic event in the future before we feel that we've been slapped hard enough where we've got a really think the whole notion of risk has been put on its head the whole the whole notion of security and safety. Is being put on its head all traditional crimes are being optimized with a digital element to them or they have their digital versions of them. And so, I don't think you can talk about risk without looking at the Cyber piece to it. And when you think about like you say, we all have a super-computer in the palm of our hand we're all connected to Superfast networks around the world. We're going to have 5G networks shortly the or computer in the palm of our hand is only going to get more powerful the digital currency element the network effect. The risk has become ambient. That is it's around us all the time. And so we have to understand that and think about it very differently than we do when we you know, go out front and lock the front gate and think you know, that's going to keep our home safe. It just not the case anymore so much.
MM: And so now that we've got that super computing power in our in the palm of our hands. We've also got which is what you're doing this institutional protection available to us as and at the consumer level so if you if you know about it, and if you employ it, so what you know, what should people be doing or what that should they certainly be considering doing to protect themselves and what population of people in your estimation right now are unprotected to this kind of Risk, that's out there, but they think that the may think they are because they've got a Gmail account and G and Google handle it for them or what I ate.
BD: Right. So, look at every individual out there with a personal device that's conducting. You know any that if they have anything to lose let's put it that way 99.9% of them are absolutely not prepared for what's at hand much less. What's So to answer your question the number something like 5 billion connected individuals that really are not in a very good spot. I mean that might be a little bit of an exaggeration but not much so what do you do about it? But you're right the flip side of this the good news. The flip side of the coin is that the same thing that is empowering cyber criminals and hackers. Also Empower us to protect super powerful computers and networks and software can balance that dislocation in risk.
And so that's you know what we try to bring to bear. So, how do you do that? How do you bring the Innovation that's using very powerful computing power power, you know, powerful networks and software to bear in our everyday lives. So we say well your digital is state it can This of three things that are the what we call the primary attack surfaces, the three primary attack surfaces that applies to everybody that has a device and that connects to the internet both personally and professionally. So we distill it down to these three attack surfaces. Number one is email and email far and away is the number one vector of attack number two is devices that any device hardware that you use to connect to the internet whether it be your laptop computer phone tablet and so on and number three is the network whether it's public Wi-Fi or home Wi-Fi or hotel Wi-Fi or anything in between so email devices and networks. So we use enterprise-grade technology, very Innovative technology the real thing that a large institutional large Enterprise would use to protect email to vices and to protect networks and since it's all software now and since it's remotely located in a managed security operations center, you're not purchasing complex Hardware since all the expertise and Engineering is done within that Center remotely and that Center is receiving all the latest intelligence collaborative intelligence results of all the behavioral analysis within their footprint on going what we call real time intelligence bringing that to Bear instantly to protect email devices and networks from all the current threats. And one thing about cybersecurity is if you know who the bad guy is, you can keep them out. It's like a like a toll gate. Let me see your credentials. Who are you what your reputation Where Have You Been? What have you done in your past? What's in your bags sort of thing. I mean, that's really what's happening in a digital in. Away, the problem is when we don't know who the bad guy is or they've put on a mask or they've they're coming from a different location or what have you well now artificial intelligence and machine learning or doing a much, much better job of saying, you know, you know, they're not a bad guy, but they look like a bad guy and we think they might be a bad guy. So the system will decide do we let them in to that email account that device or that Network or would you keep them out and maybe if they're not sure. They'll sandbox it and so we'll put that attachment, or they'll open that attachment outside of the environment to see how it behaves and whether it should be allowed into the client’s environment or not. And all of that is happening, you know, very. very quickly seamlessly to the end users as they are really just receiving results from all of the science and heavy-duty work that's happening at the managed security operations center. So it's the three attacks. This is and it's applying the latest greatest protection against those three attack surfaces.
MM: And so essentially what's happening is you are setting something up like that me as a user all of the things that I'm doing over the Internet one become invisible to people who are looking at me and less well in Cryptid and so invisible well, unless they break the encryption which is a big challenge for.
BD: them. If they don't have the key. They're not going to do it. They're not even the FBI can't do it.
MM: Right. And so, it's so it's doing that which is basically then saying I'm invisible so I so I can conduct my business whether it's personal business Financial business or whatever and I can feel secure that doing so I'm not opening myself up. I'm not vulnerable. I'm using the internet the way I want to and not being subject to the danger.
BD: That's right, it is, it is. So let me see if I can simplify that on one another level. So we talked about the three attack surfaces. There are only two things that we want to do with regards to email devices and networks. The first thing is don't let the bad in the second thing is anonymize everything out. Now those are complex processes, but for the user it's pretty much that simple and really we're kind of a bridge over the complexity of all these things. Acting as a platform and sort of bridging over all of these things that the users don't want to be bothered with don't want to take the time to understand and just want to be beneficiaries of if you will so when you use the system's before anything comes into your environment, it's scrubbed, filtered, cleaned, credentialized, authenticated, all of these things. And so you are only getting clean Internet. It's like a water filter if you will or any Our air filter right? You want the Clean Air? You want the Clean Water? You want to leave all the dirt behind it's really kind of the same thing of course much more complex, but the same idea then number two. We want to anonymize everything going out. So before it goes out to the big bad internet, it's encrypted and it's tunneled through or around the internet reducing your digital footprint putting you back in control of your information and avoiding, you know the bulk of this risk, you know. We the other thing is this mic that I think it is important. Nobody will eliminate this risk and it would never be reasonable to expect that to happen. Nobody expects. I think any risk to be eliminated certainly not cyber when it's an ambient type of thing and there's a human factor so much of it so you're not going to eliminate it but you can mitigate it to the margin. There's no question about that. And what's good news about that. Is that more and more the attacks are not targeted. There are still targeted attacks and we have very wealthy clients that are targeted and will be targeted because of that but generally the rest of us are not going to necessarily be targeted. That's not our number one risk. The preponderance of attacks are mass opportunistic there more sprayed across email addresses and networks and devices than they are targeted and they're more looking for the low-hanging fruit those that are you know least aware and most of Unprepared and the risk the hit rate, you know is high enough where they can probably do that for some period of time. So if we just make it hard and if we just come off the radar of being the low-hanging fruit, we've lopped off an enormous element of the risk, and the rest of it is details and driving it down even further to the margin.
MM: It's just like when you say it like that to me, I'm thinking like well, it's Common Sense there. Lock your door and he's got lights on the chances that someone's going to try to get in go way down try and they're going to go somewhere where the doors open and there's no lights. Right.
BD: I think a criminals have an incredible sort of innate understanding of risk reward, certainly the professional ones. Otherwise, it wouldn't be professional. They'd be in jail or someplace else. So they understand you know how to look at a criminal opportunity in a way that that minimizes their chances of getting caught or hurt or suffering penalties and maximizing or optimizing their profit in the meantime. And so that's right. It's like what going down the street if your house is the one with a fence and a dog and an armed guard and everybody else's door is wide open, you know odds are unless you've got something in that house that somebody has to have that they're going to leave you alone,
MM: Well Brad, it's not often that I give personal endorsements on the show, but I am going to do that with you because as I mentioned at the beginning, I'm I took I took immediate action on this because of the way you presented it in such a was so compelling and the solution was so easy the roadmap where I didn't have to do anything except say yes, and I feel So good about our situation now as a result of having done that and I knew that I was vulnerable and I knew that I should be doing something but no one had ever just presented something I could just say. Yes. Yes to you know, and that it would just be executed. So you and your team a total digital security have done that and I thank you for that and I recommend everybody listening contact Brad at least find out. What where you are and where you could be and boy if you're not where you should be or could be really think about it because you don't want to become a victim in your business obviously, but at your home, it's even worse.
BD: Well, those comments are music to my ears. So, thank you very much Mike. That's what it's all about. We call it cyber security for life. It doesn't matter whether you're at work or at home or any place in between again. This is an Be interests. That's the way we try to approach it. And we do try to simplify things we spend time on. How do we communicate? How do we engage with the clients? You know, we admire organization we think ourselves is coaches as much as anything. It's not it tech support. You know, we talk your language. We know what you're seeing. We know what you're feeling we've seen at all. We just want to make it really easy to do something about it and to work with you, you know, almost hand in hand during the course and then we keep relationships with our clients because the risk Horizon changes every day. So we're always informing our clients around, you know, what to look for what to be aware of how to make a difference if there's something specific and then we're also always looking at the solutions Horizon as all this capital investment continues to bring us a flow of innovation, which is just again, like digital technology always does it makes it better makes it Paper makes it easier. We'll bring that to Bear more and more in our customers lives. So thank you very much. I really enjoyed it.
MM: How would you like people to contact you?
BD: I think best honestly is by email. It's Brad at my company name total digital security.com. I know it's a mouthful; firstname.lastname@example.org. We're very responsive and anybody can reach out.
MM: Perfect Brad. Thank you so much for being on the show today. Congratulations on your success your multiple successes and thanks for sharing your stories with us. And for the work that you're doing now to help protect us. It's really great stuff.
BD: You bet Mike. Thank you very much.
MM: Thanks for listening to this episode of the “How'd it Happen” podcast where we believe that success doesn't happen. Unless you make it happen. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcast Google podcast. Pitcher or wherever you like to listen, and while you're there please rate it and leave a comment as well. I'd love to hear your thoughts about the show ideas for future guests or whatever you'd like to share. And, of course, you can always find me at Mike Malatesta.com. See you next time. Thanks again for listening to the ”How'd it Happen" podcast.