Brad Deflin tells the Total Digital Security story in this Q&A from May 16th, 2024.


#1 - What inspired you to start Total Digital Security?


My professional career has always centered around managing risk for private clients and family offices.  While working for a Wall Street firm in 2012, I noticed emerging patterns that highlighted a significant market opportunity that could extend well into the future.

In 2012, we identified two critical factors that led to the creation of Total Digital Security.

  1. The first was what I describe as the "democratization of cyber risk." The internet tends to level everything it touches, making cybercrime a universal threat, not just an institutional one. Previously, cybercrime focused on corporate espionage and intellectual property theft. However, we saw a shift towards crimes aimed at profiting from ordinary internet users as well.
  2. The second factor was a noticeable surge in investment within the IT security sector. Despite being a 25-year-old industry dominated by a few stagnant players, this period saw significant venture capital infusion, targeting industry innovation. These new investors were not just after market share; they aimed to revolutionize the industry. They fostered advancements in remote technologies, data centers, cloud computing, and the nascent field of machine learning, anticipating the integration of artificial intelligence.

Total Digital Security was conceived to bridge the gap between these innovative cybersecurity solutions and the new demographic of cyber risk bearers—individuals, private clients, families, family offices, and professional practices. Our goal is to provide enterprise-level security solutions to personal technology environments. We don’t create these solutions; we strategically source them from the best providers suited to our clients' needs.

In summary, the combination of rapidly expanding markets and the push for innovation inspired us to establish Total Digital Security. Our business stands at the intersection of these enduring trends, ready to address the evolving cybersecurity needs of our diverse clientele.


#2 - How does TDS make a difference? Do you support any causes that we can share?


At Total Digital Security, we recognize that we are as much a people business as we are a technology business. Cybersecurity technology is advancing exponentially, and the solutions are evolving to counter even AI-optimized cyber-attacks. However, the human side of cybersecurity cannot keep pace with these rapid advancements. Technological change occurs at double or triple rates annually, whereas human adaptation progresses at a maximum of 3-4% per year. This creates a significant gap—the delta between digital advancements and human adaptability continues to widen exponentially.

WTF_graph_of_life inked on paper napkin

Our approach focuses on bridging this gap by ensuring that our clients, who range from high-net-worth individuals to ultra-high-net-worth offices, as well as affluent families, are equipped to handle these changes. Unlike typical cybersecurity firms that offer bundled solutions, we provide à la carte options. This allows us to deliver enterprise-grade privacy and security solutions tailored to the specific needs and concerns of nearly any individual or family that seeks protection.

In terms of supporting causes, we are committed to enhancing cybersecurity education and awareness. We actively participate in and sponsor events and workshops, including pro bono, that educate the public on the importance of cybersecurity, promoting safer digital best-practices among communities that are increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats.


#3 - What’s your brand promise? How do you deliver the promise to clients? How does the promise differentiate you from competitors?


At Total Digital Security, our brand promise is relationship-centric. We prioritize personal interactions and tailored support, distinguishing ourselves from the typical, institutionally based cybersecurity providers. We operate without call centers, are US-based, and communicate in plain English. We see every service and support call not just as an issue to be resolved, but as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with our client. This approach allows us to address both technological and human risks effectively.

In our client engagements, we incorporate best practices and critical thinking skills. We are confident in the effectiveness of our cybersecurity solutions to minimize digital footprints and reduce risks to privacy and personal security. To ensure our clients are fully equipped, we offer personalized coaching on key digital tools, including password managers, browser optimization, workflow enhancements, and email management.

Our commitment to providing personal service and support in an engaging and enlightening manner sets us apart from many competitors. While they may rely on ticket systems and impersonal call centers, we focus on creating a supportive and responsive environment that fosters long-term client relationships and trust.

#4 - In a rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape, how do you ensure that TDS stays ahead of emerging threats and technologies?

The cybersecurity landscape is indeed dynamic, with risks evolving and morphing at breakneck speeds. Exploits are increasingly sophisticated, often utilizing AI-enabled feedback loops that draw on vast amounts of personal information available on the dark web.

At Total Digital Security, we address these emerging threats by using advanced monitoring tools that operate 24/7. These tools leverage extensive cyber risk intelligence gathered not only from our proprietary sources but also from third-party providers and collaborative partners. Together with innovative AI tools, this intelligence is analyzed to detect patterns and identify malicious actors effectively.

Our infrastructure also plays a crucial role in our proactive defense strategy. Our services are built on modern data centers that eliminate the need for clients to manage complex hardware and systems. This setup allows for rapid integration of new technologies and innovations directly at the data center level, ensuring that enhancements are seamless and immediately beneficial to our clients.

This strategic approach ensures that TDS clients benefit from the latest investments and advancements in IT security without any inconvenience or lapse in protection, keeping them one step ahead in a constantly evolving cyber landscape.


#5 - Which challenges and obstacles can you help clients overcome? How? What are the outcomes for clients?


For many, the digital realm and associated cyber risks are abstract and challenging to grasp. Private clients and families often lack the comprehensive IT support that larger organizations have at their disposal.

At Total Digital Security, our approach demystifies cyber risk by providing clients with a clear "mind's eye" view of the cybersecurity landscape. We help clients pinpoint and understand the critical inflection points where cyber risks can become significant threats. This approach leads to a key outcome: empowerment.

Our clients not only embrace the solutions we provide but also develop a deeper understanding of the cybersecurity challenges they face. This enhanced awareness is coupled with an elevation in critical thinking skills, enabling them to make informed decisions about their digital security. By equipping our clients with knowledge and tools, we transform their experience from one of uncertainty to one of confidence and control over their digital environments.


#6 - Imagine: if TDS disappeared, what would people miss the most about it?


Besides feeling unsettled and less at peace than before, I think people would miss our people most. Our team is passionate about what we do in a way that transcends a common business. Every day we hear about the damage and inconvenience caused by cybercrime and fraud. Our mission is to firstly be preemptive and defend before the inevitable takes place. But over half of our new clients come to us after a breach. We find they have great levels of appreciation for our services and the people our clients engaged with.


  1. Expertise and Dedication of the Team: People would deeply miss the passionate and skilled individuals who work at TDS. Our team's dedication to preemptively defending against cyber threats and their responsiveness after a breach plays a crucial role in our clients' peace of mind and overall cybersecurity health. Clients often build personal relationships with these team members, relying on them not just for their technical expertise, but also for their ability to empathize, guide, and reassure during stressful situations.
  2. Trust and Reliability: Our clients have a high level of trust in TDS, developed from experiences of effective and timely support during incidents of cybercrime and fraud. This trust is hard to establish and irreplaceable once gone. Clients would miss having a reliable partner they can turn to when they feel most vulnerable.
  3. Educational Support: We educate our clients on best practices and how to avoid future security issues. Losing such a resource would be a setback for clients in a world of fast-paced change and an ever-evolving risk landscape.
  4. Customized Solutions: TDS provides solutions that fit the unique needs and affordability of each client, which generic solutions or less specialized firms might not offer. Clients would miss this customization and the assurance that their specific concerns are addressed.

Overall, TDS’s disappearance would leave a void not easily filled by another provider, primarily due to the combination of expert skills, proactive and reactive services, and the strong relationships forged between our team and our clients.


#7 - How does TDS create positive change for your clients, your team, and other companies around you?


We have a six prong approach:

  1. Empowering Clients: TDS shifts the mindset of its clients from one of avoidance to empowerment regarding cybersecurity. This means that instead of clients fearing the digital landscape, they learn to navigate it confidently and securely. By advocating for cybersecurity as a critical life skill, TDS helps clients understand and implement practices that protect their digital life, privacy, and sensitive data. This empowerment enables clients to engage with digital technologies more actively and safely, fostering growth and innovation in their personal and professional lives.
  2. Educational Outreach: TDS conducts workshops, seminars, and training sessions that educate clients about the latest threats and the best practices in cybersecurity. This education is crucial in today's world where digital risks are constantly evolving. By staying informed, clients can proactively address potential vulnerabilities before they are exploited.
  3. Building a Knowledgeable Team: For the team within TDS, this focus on empowerment and education creates a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Team members are not only equipped to tackle challenging cybersecurity issues but are also encouraged to develop new solutions and innovative approaches. This environment not only enhances their professional skills but also contributes to their personal growth and job satisfaction.
  4. Influencing the Industry: By setting high standards in cybersecurity practices and client service, TDS influences other companies in the industry. Its approach can inspire other firms to adopt similar values and practices, thereby raising the overall standards and expectations within the cybersecurity field. This ripple effect can lead to more robust security practices across the board, benefiting a wider community beyond TDS's immediate clients.
  5. Advocacy for Better Security Practices: TDS's advocacy extends beyond just its client base. By participating in industry forums, public discussions, and policy-making processes, TDS can help shape broader cybersecurity policies and practices. This advocacy helps ensure that important issues like privacy, data protection, and digital security are prioritized at higher levels of decision-making, influencing societal norms and legislative frameworks.
  6. Community Engagement: Often, firms like TDS engage directly with the community through outreach programs and partnerships with educational institutions. These activities help to raise awareness about cybersecurity among the public, fostering a more informed and vigilant society that is better equipped to handle the complexities of the digital age.

By promoting a proactive and empowered approach to cybersecurity, TDS not only enhances the digital safety of its clients but also contributes positively to the professional growth of its team and the broader cybersecurity ecosystem. This comprehensive approach to creating positive change underscores TDS’s role as a leader and advocate in the cybersecurity field.


#8 - What does #CybersecurityForLife mean to you?


#CybersecurityForLife signifies a commitment to integrating cybersecurity into every facet of our daily lives, recognizing that the protection of our digital information is as crucial as safeguarding our physical well-being. Here’s how Total Digital Security views this concept:

  1. Lifelong Commitment: Cybersecurity is not a one-time effort but a continuous practice that evolves with the changing threats and technologies. #CybersecurityForLife means staying vigilant and proactive about security throughout one's entire life. It encompasses education, awareness, and the adoption of security measures from an early age and continues throughout one's personal and professional life.
  2. Holistic Approach: This hashtag embodies a holistic approach to cybersecurity. It's not just about securing our devices; it's about understanding the risks in our entire digital footprint—email, online accounts, social media, and even the devices we use at home like smart therapeutics and security systems. It's about protecting all aspects of our digital life.
  3. Education and Empowerment: At Total Digital Security, #CybersecurityForLife means empowering individuals and organizations with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves in a digital world. We believe that education is key to effective cybersecurity. By providing training and resources, we ensure that people of all ages and businesses of all sizes can understand and implement security measures.
  4. Adaptability and Resilience: The digital landscape is constantly changing, with new threats emerging regularly. #CybersecurityForLife reflects our commitment to adaptability and resilience, ensuring that our strategies and solutions evolve to meet new challenges. This means staying ahead of trends, adapting strategies as needed, and always looking for innovative ways to protect our clients.
  5. Inclusivity: Cybersecurity for life means making security accessible and understandable for everyone, regardless of technical expertise or background. We strive to demystify cybersecurity, making it a part of everyday conversation and action, ensuring everyone has the tools they need to protect themselves.
  6. Community Engagement: Finally, #CybersecurityForLife extends beyond individual or organizational boundaries to encompass community engagement. We believe in building a community where members actively protect not only themselves but also support others in maintaining a secure digital environment.

This phrase encapsulates our mission at Total Digital Security to create a secure, sustainable digital environment that supports our lifestyle today and for future generations.=


#9 - How can you make clients more effective and productive as users of your service?


To enhance the effectiveness and productivity of clients using Total Digital Security's services, several strategies are employed. These focus not only on improving security measures but also on integrating these measures seamlessly into users’ workflows to ensure they enhance, rather than hinder, business and personal activities. Here’s how we achieve this:

  1. Streamlined Security Solutions: User-friendly security solutions integrate smoothly into existing systems and workflows. This minimizes disruptions and reduces the learning curve, allowing clients to continue their activities with minimal interruption. Solutions are efficient and operate in the background, providing protection without requiring constant attention from the user.
  2. Computer Coaching Programs: We offer tailored “coaching” sessions that address the specific needs and risks of each client. By focusing on relevant threats and teaching practical skills, clients can quickly learn to recognize and mitigate potential security issues, enhancing their overall productivity and security awareness.
  3. Proactive Threat Management: TDS utilizes proactive monitoring tools that automatically detect and respond to threats before they impact the client. This reduces downtime caused by security breaches and ensures that clients’ systems are always running at peak performance with optimal security.
  4. Regular Updates and Briefings: TDS keeps clients informed with regular updates about the latest security threats and trends. By providing this information in an accessible format, clients can stay aware of the landscape without having to conduct the research themselves, saving time and resources.
  5. Responsive Support: We maintain a responsive customer support system that can quickly resolve any issues that arise. A quick response time ensures that clients can get back to their important tasks as soon as possible, minimizing downtime and frustration.

By focusing on these areas, Total Digital Security can help clients become not only more secure but also more efficient and effective in their daily operations. This approach ensures that cybersecurity is a business enabler, not a hindrance.


#10 - Describe "democratization of cyber risk".


The "democratization of cyber risk" refers to the concept that in today's digital age, cybersecurity concerns are no longer limited to large corporations or specific sectors but are widespread, affecting individuals, small businesses, and large enterprises alike. This democratization means that everyone, regardless of their technical background, economic status, or business size, faces some level of cyber risk and therefore needs access to cybersecurity tools and knowledge. Here’s a detailed look at what this concept entails:

  1. Universal Vulnerability: In the digital world, everyone—from individual users to small businesses and large corporations—is potentially vulnerable to cyber threats like phishing, malware, data breaches, and more. This widespread vulnerability has led to a need for universal solutions and awareness in cybersecurity practices.
  2. Accessibility to Security Tools: Democratization also involves making advanced cybersecurity tools and practices accessible to all users, not just large entities with significant resources. This includes affordable, easy-to-use security solutions that can be implemented without deep technical knowledge.
  3. Education and Awareness: Broadening education on cyber risks and security practices to a wider audience is crucial. This means integrating cybersecurity education into public schooling, community programs, and professional training across various industries, not just IT-focused fields.
  4. Empowerment Through Technology: Finally, democratization of cyber risk implies using technology not only as a means of protection but also as a way to empower users. By understanding and managing their cyber risks, individuals and organizations can harness the benefits of the digital world more fully and safely.

By embracing the democratization of cyber risk, Total Digital Security aims to equip individuals and organizations of all sizes with the tools, knowledge, and support necessary to navigate the complexities of the cyber landscape. This approach not only enhances individual security but also contributes to a safer digital environment for everyone.


#11 - Can you identify a moment that’s particularly memorable for TDS?


Celebrating the 10-year milestone in March 2023 stands out as a particularly memorable and significant moment for Total Digital Security (TDS). This anniversary not only marked a decade of resilience and growth but also highlighted TDS's unique position in the cybersecurity industry.

  1. Validation of Vision and Strategy: Reaching this milestone was a profound validation of the initial vision that drove the foundation of TDS. The idea to start the company was based on trend analysis, industry data, and an informed intuition about the future of cyber risks and the necessity for cybersecurity. Surviving and thriving for over a decade in the rapidly evolving tech landscape confirms that the foundational strategies and insights were not only correct but also effectively executed.
  2. Growth and Adaptation: Over these ten years, TDS has navigated numerous changes in technology and cyber threat landscapes. The ability to adapt and grow in such an environment is a testament to the company's agility, foresight, and the robustness of its solutions. This decade-long journey underscores how TDS has stayed relevant and ahead of the curve, continuously refining its offerings to meet emerging challenges.
  3. Accumulation of Expertise: Throughout this period, TDS has accumulated tens of thousands of hours in the field, working at the critical intersection of people, their personal technology, and new cyber risks. This extensive, hands-on experience has not only deepened the company’s expertise but likely set it apart from competitors. This depth of experiential knowledge is invaluable and equips TDS to offer nuanced, highly effective cybersecurity solutions that are finely tuned to the real-world needs and challenges faced by its clients.
  4. Impact on Clients and Community: The 10-year anniversary is also a moment to reflect on the impact TDS has had on its clients and the broader community. Through its dedicated service, TDS has played a crucial role in protecting countless individuals and organizations from cyber threats, ultimately contributing to safer digital environments.
  5. Team and Culture: Reaching such a milestone inevitably involves reflecting on the growth and development of the team and the culture at TDS. It’s a celebration of the collective effort, resilience, and commitment of everyone involved whose contributions have shaped the company’s journey and successes.

Overall, the 10-year anniversary of Total Digital Security is a landmark moment that not only celebrates past achievements but also sets a confident tone for the future. It’s a reminder of where the company started, the journey it has undertaken, and the potential that lies ahead.


#12 - Tell us about what you are currently working on. What's next for TDS?


Total Digital Security (TDS) is currently focusing on several strategic initiatives designed to enhance its cybersecurity offerings and better serve its clients in an increasingly complex digital landscape. Here's a closer look at what TDS is working on and what's next:

  1. Client-Centric Focus: Every day at TDS starts with an affirmation of the primary goal: to exceed client expectations. This focus shapes all activities and decisions, ensuring that client satisfaction and security remain at the forefront of the company’s operations.
  2. Continuous Threat Analysis: TDS remains committed to its due diligence in monitoring and analyzing emerging cyber threats. This ongoing threat assessment is crucial in an environment where cyber risks evolve rapidly and unpredictably. By staying informed about the latest threats, TDS can anticipate changes and adapt its strategies accordingly, ensuring clients receive the most effective and timely protection.
  3. Leveraging AI in Cybersecurity: Recognizing the growing sophistication of cyber threats, TDS is actively integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into its security solutions. AI offers numerous advantages, including enhanced detection capabilities, faster response times, and more personalized security measures. By harnessing AI, TDS can provide solutions that are not only reactive but also proactive, predicting and mitigating threats before they manifest.
  4. Focus on Digital Identification: TDS is adding digital identification as a cornerstone of our value proposition. Digital identity plays a critical role in modern cybersecurity frameworks, as it involves verifying and managing digital identities to prevent fraud and unauthorized access. By strengthening capabilities in digital identification, TDS aims to provide more robust solutions that protect clients’ identities and sensitive data across various platforms and transactions.
  5. Expanding Solutions and Services: As part of its strategic growth, TDS is exploring new solutions and services that align with the latest technological advancements and market needs. This may involve developing new tools or enhancing existing ones to cover a broader range of cybersecurity challenges.
  6. Educational Initiatives: Alongside technological advancements, TDS understands the importance of client education as a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity. Future initiatives include expanded educational programs that empower clients to better understand and manage their cyber risks actively.

By focusing on these key areas, TDS is not just keeping pace with the industry but aiming to set the standards in cybersecurity. The commitment to exceeding client expectations and continuously adapting to the cyber threat landscape ensures that TDS remains a trusted and innovative leader in the field. What’s next for TDS is about deepening its integration of cutting-edge technologies like AI and expanding its expertise in essential areas like digital identification, all while maintaining a strong client-first approach to service.


#13 - What is the most rewarding part of what you do?


The most rewarding part of what we do at Total Digital Security centers around the profound impact we have on our clients' safety, confidence, and understanding of the digital world. Here’s a closer look at what makes our work so gratifying:

  1. Enhancing Client Security: Perhaps the most direct and impactful reward is knowing that we significantly enhance our clients' security. By protecting their digital assets and information, we help them avoid the potentially devastating consequences of cyber threats. This not only safeguards their personal and professional lives but also contributes to their overall peace of mind.
  2. Building Trust and Relationships: Developing strong, trusting relationships with our clients is incredibly rewarding. As we work closely with them to address their cybersecurity needs, we often become their trusted advisors. This relationship extends beyond mere service provision; it involves deeply understanding their needs, fears, and aspirations and crafting solutions that truly resonate with their personal or organizational goals.
  3. Empowering Through Education: Educating clients about cybersecurity is a core part of our mission, and seeing the tangible results of this education is immensely satisfying. Empowering clients with the knowledge to protect themselves better and make informed decisions about their digital practices is a key reward. It shifts their approach from one of uncertainty and fear to confidence and control.
  4. Driving Innovation: The cybersecurity field is dynamic and requires constant innovation to stay ahead of threats. Being at the forefront of developing and implementing cutting-edge technologies, like artificial intelligence in security practices, is highly rewarding. It not only challenges our team to be their best but also ensures we are providing the most effective solutions to those we serve.
  5. Contributing to a Safer Digital World: On a broader scale, our work contributes to creating a safer digital environment for everyone. Each client we secure adds to the overall health of the digital ecosystem, reducing the spread and impact of cyber threats across the globe.
  6. Feedback and Success Stories: Hearing feedback from clients about how our services have protected them, or helped them recover from a security breach, reinforces the value of our work. Success stories where clients have successfully averted potential disasters thanks to our systems and support are particularly rewarding.
  7. Team Growth and Success: Finally, seeing the growth and development of our team members is incredibly fulfilling. As they expand their skills and knowledge, they not only enhance their career prospects but also increase their capacity to make a meaningful impact on our clients’ lives.

Overall, the most rewarding part of our work at TDS is the combination of making a real difference in enhancing digital safety, building meaningful relationships, and constantly pushing the boundaries of technology and service excellence.


Brad Deflin, May 16th, 2024


Topics: Total Digital Security

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