Cyber Threat Intelligence

How SMBs Can Achieve Better Cybersecurity

Vince Crisler, Founder and CEO of Dark Cubed, shares his insights on the state of cybersecurity and how SMBs can stay protected against increasingly sophisticated attacks

Vince Crisler Interview - Expert Insights

The average cost of a data breach continues to skyrocket, reaching $3.86 million dollars in 2020. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, and breaches such as the recent Microsoft Exchange attack, highlight that it’s not just large enterprises at risk; small- and mid-sized businesses are also affected.

To help protect themselves from these advanced attacks, many SMBs are looking towards Managed Service Providers (MSPs) for help dealing with security issues, but often service partners themselves are struggling to keep up with cybersecurity attacks and finding the right solutions to protect their clients.

One company helping MSPs to deal with these challenges is Dark Cubed, a SaaS threat monitoring, detection and blocking solution. Founded in 2015, Dark Cubed delivers affordable, automated cybersecurity protection, designed for the small- and mid-sized business market, sold exclusively through the MSP channel.

To discuss how SMBs can stay protected against cybersecurity threats, and how MSPs can keep their clients protected, we spoke to Vince Crisler, Dark Cubed’s Founder and CEO.

Why Cybersecurity For SMBs Isn’t Working

Crisler began his security career as a US Air Force Communications Officer, during which he spent time working in Germany and in the Nuclear Command Control function in the Pentagon. He then moved to the White House Communications Agency, where he worked as a Presidential Communications Officer and then the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the White House networks under the Bush Administration.

As part of this role, Crisler developed the White House’s first 24/7 Cybersecurity Operation Center to monitor and protect the White House Networks, which was “a really cool opportunity to server our country,” Crisler says. This operation continued into the Obama administration.

From there, Crisler moved to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he worked on developing national cybersecurity programs, including the National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS) and the EINSTEIN programs. One core goals of the White House and DHS at the time was to provide better protection for critical infrastructure networks through the integration of classified information gathered by intelligence services, such as the NSA.  In support of this goal, Crisler helped build the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services (ECS) Program, which was announced by President Obama in a 2013 Executive Order titled, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

Working for these institutions, Crisler had a realization: “What we’re doing in cybersecurity is not working for a majority of the market,” he says. Small and mid-sized organizations “don’t have the time, people or money” to manage complex cybersecurity solutions, and the top down, complex cybersecurity solutions that dominate the cybersecurity market only really work for the “top 1% of companies out there.”

When it comes to protecting SMBs, many cybersecurity providers take their enterprise solutions, and “dumb them down” to fit the needs of smaller businesses. But this approach doesn’t work, Crisler says. “You have to start from the ground up, and build something new and unique, designed for SMBs,” he explains. “And that’s what we’ve done with Dark Cubed.”

A Better Approach To Cybersecurity

Dark Cubed is an automated threat monitoring, detection and blocking solution. “The idea is to give organizations a stream of data about what’s coming in and out of their network,” Crisler says. “Then applying sophisticated analytics and capabilities to that data to deliver value, without requiring the customer to do anything.”

When developing Dark Cubed, Crisler says a core focus was on augmenting firewalls, and developing hardware to detect and block threats, and improve visibility. “But we learned over the course of the first couple of years that hardware is really hard. One of the biggest challenges for small- and mid-sized organizations is finding talent, and for them deploying new hardware and configuring software,” he explains.

Now, Dark Cubed is a fully cloud-based SaaS solution “that can be up and running in five to ten minutes.” There is no hardware or software to install, and the primary interface integrates with, and works in addition to, the organization’s existing firewall.

Dark Cubed is best suited for MSPs looking to provide their clients with strong protection. “Managed service providers are on the front lines of supporting small companies, they have the trust and support of these organizations.

“But MSPs are being positioned with some really tough challenges; they have to deliver security to their customer base, but their customers can’t really afford what’s on the market.

“That’s where our partnership provides a lot of value to managed service providers. For a very low price point, you can start to protect your customer networks, get you recurring revenue, and other security technologies you wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Creating Actionable Threat Intelligence

When it comes to traditional threat intelligence solutions, the main challenge organizations have is taking a wealth of data indicating where attacks are happening across a network and making that data actionable.

Many threat intelligence companies focus on threat actors and capabilities; helping companies understand who is attacking them, and why.

But “as you look down market to small- and mid-sized companies, they don’t care!” Crisler says. “They just want the attacks to stop. So how do you make that threat intelligence, that information, actionable?”

Dark Cubed’s combination of analytics enables MSPs to help SMBs automate threat protection and block attacks when they emerge – going beyond traditional threat intelligence. This helps organizations to achieve two key use cases, Crisler says.

“The first is the idea of fire and forget. So, you can set up a firewall on our server with a level of protection against threats; these instructions will then be sent to your firewall and the threats will be blocked. You never have to do anything again.

“Then, on the more advanced side, we have a very elegant user interface that is not designed to compete with SIEM tools, but instead lets an IT person in a small business get more security insights. They can do investigation on threats, they can get reporting, and they can set up alerts for new attacks. It’s a way to solve some of these problems, very easily.”

The Future For Dark Cubed

Dark Cubed’s immediate road map over the next few months is all about improving ease of use and adding new features and functionality to help MSPs deliver better value to their customers.

“Better, enhanced notifications, better reporting, streamlining the businesses processes, and answering that key questions: how do we make the lives easier for our MSP partners?” Crisler explains.

Further ahead, plans include developing integrations with other partners, including integrating DNS services, integrating into PSA and RMM tools that managed services providers are using, and adding more compatibility across other tools.

How Your Organization Can Achieve Better Cybersecurity And Avoid “Analysis Paralysis”

For organizations and MSPs today that are struggling with cybersecurity threats and considering a solution like Dark Cubed, Crisler has a simple piece of advice: don’t over think it.

“There is a lot of noise, there is a lot of detail out there about all the things you need to do to be secure,” he says. “I see people get stuck in this analysis paralysis, where they don’t know what’s the right way to go.”

“But if you can find a solution like ours that can give you visibility into threats that are targeting a network, and can protect and block you, you can figure out where to go from there. It’s a lot easier to make the argument that you need to enhance security, when you’re seeing your network being attacked.”

“I always say the punchline at the end of the joke for all the technologists like me is cybersecurity is about boring old risk management. So, how many resources do you have, what’s the risk you’re trying to manage, and how do you manage it most effectively?

“And that’s where our partnership with manage service providers really works. You don’t need a SIEM. You don’t need really fancy tools. You just need to bring in some basic capabilities, have it work, and then go from there.”

Thanks to Vince Crisler, CEO and Founder of Dark Cubed for participating in this interview. You can find out more about Dark Cubed here: