How Dark Cubed is Disrupting Cybersecurity: Exclusive Interview

Cybersecurity firm, Dark Cubed, is seeking to disrupt the cybersecurity market using experience gained in election cybersecurity at the 2016 Republic National Convention. What stood out to us about the solution was predictive analytics, rapid customization and threat scoring – the company has a patent-pending approach which yields a single-digit threat number based on risk and confidence. This scoring method actually scored the WannCry exploit an 8 out of 10 (the higher the number, the worse it is) before it was named.

Led by CEO Vince Crisler and Chief Operating Officer, Peter Clay, Dark Cubed packs some heavy firepower underscored by a team of cybersecurity experts encompassing high-level federal government experience. I had a chance to talk with Vince Crisler on the status of cybersecurity developments ranging from election interference to consumer IoT devices and simple protections that small businesses can take to protect themselves in a rapidly evolving digital era. 

Dark Cloud CEO Vince Crisler and Chief Operating Officer

How was Dark Cubed founded, and what are some of the more high-profile projects and firms that you’ve worked with? 

Dark Cubed was founded to fill a gap in the cybersecurity market and to largely automate the role of a traditional entry-level SOC analyst. Most security tools are complicated to use, non-intuitive, and take years to master. In order to even begin a cybersecurity program, companies were forced to invest tens of thousands in SOC analysts, threat intelligence feeds, and a myriad of security tools and information sources.  

Dark Cubed aimed to be different. We built a tool from the ground up that even a non-technical user can learn to use in an hour, and can automatically score and block risky connections. 

Both you and Peter Clay have extensive experience in cybersecurity at high levels of the federal government. How do those experiences translate to the private sector?

Both Pete and I have had experience at places such as the White House, the Pentagon, and other Federal Departments and Agencies. In many ways, Federal government experience is truly unique from private sector experiences and doesn’t necessarily translate to the private sector, however, some experiences do.  

For example, when I arrived at the White House, it was at the early stages of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, and the U.S. government was just waking up to the fact that lack of capability within cybersecurity was creating a strategic national security risk. Given those efforts, I had an opportunity to have a front-row seat to some very sophisticated thinking around how to actually counter nation-state level threats to our government.  

At the same time, I had to build the first-ever 24x7x365 Security Operations Center for the White House. Given the urgency of the threat, we built out the contracts and infrastructure for the SOC in just under six months, that experience translates very well to the private sector. 

What are some of the most common cybersecurity threats facing enterprises today? What are some of the rare, but more virulent threats? Are there any recent examples (i.e., hacks) that you can use as an example? 

In many ways, the cybersecurity community is over-engineering solutions and likes to focus on some of the hardest problems within the security space. Unfortunately, this means many basic things are not getting fixed at scale across the business community.  

Some of the most prevalent threats have to do with ransomware, phishing, and business e-mail compromise (BEC). Solving any of these challenges 100 percent is very hard, but some basic things can be put in place to help reduce the likelihood that they occur. For example, many ransomware attacks occur because the IT shop has a publicly exposed remote desktop server that gets brute-forced.  

Simply putting those assets behind a VPN with two-factor authentication will reduce the attack surface significantly. Even easier than that, only allowing access from specific IPs can be very helpful. With respect to business e-mail compromise, just creating a small business rule that says for any wire transfer, a voice confirmation is required…simply picking up the phone and making a 30-second phone call could save companies millions of dollars.

At a high level, can you outline some of the primary security features of Dark Cubed? 

We like to use the analogy of network security being like a home security system. Many companies have a basic lock on their door (e.g., a firewall) but don’t really have any ability to monitor if people are trying to force their way in or even keep track of potential intruders that are already inside.  

Unfortunately, most cybersecurity solutions are like buying a security system that assumes you have plenty of money to spend and a large security force to monitor and maintain the system.  Many solutions exist that are akin to having ADT monitor your house, but due to the fact that computer networks are processing an order magnitude more traffic than a normal house, these solutions are either (A) too expensive or (B) too simple to provide much value. 

We have developed a unique approach to the problem set that provides a ridiculously easy path to getting network data to us through our SaaS infrastructure, enabling us to deliver enterprise-grade threat analytics, AI, machine learning, and automation against detected threats to protect our customers without requiring them to do anything. 

If the customer wants to interact with their data, we provide them a user interface that is simple and straightforward. This represents an alternative to a traditional SIEM tool that reduces noise and increases the efficiency of team members. A customer can be up and running on Dark Cubed in less than 15 minutes and at a value that no other solution on the market can meet.

The 2020 Elections are looming, and considering the spectacle of 2016 and revelations provided by the Senate Intelligence Committee on election system hacking targets, the stakes for cybersecurity are higher than ever. You wrote a paper “An Analysis of Grizzly Steppe” evaluating the Joint Analysis Report on election security compromises. What conclusions did you and the Joint Analysis Report come to and how do you think those can play into the 2020 elections?  

The 2020 Elections are a great example of a massive strategic challenge for our nation where traditional approaches to security are just too hard. I like to say that all elections are local and we need a solution that accepts that reality.  

With the Grizzly Steppe report, we found that in a vacuum, identifying bad network traffic is really hard. False positives, noisy indicators, and broad reporting all create work for security teams, but in most places, those security teams simply do not exist. With the 2020 Elections, the focus needs to be placed on collecting a statistically relevant sampling of network data related to the elections infrastructure to enable authoritative reporting on activity seen or not seen.  

One of the things that concern me the most about the 2020 Elections is the ability for a third party to claim that they hacked the election, but due to a lack of a coherent data collection strategy, the U.S. will be unable to prove the negative. This could be a highly disruptive and dangerous scenario.

There’s significant, and persistent, concern about the cybersecurity of IoT devices, especially as they balloon in numbers and operate with various applications that contain sensitive data. What is your perspective on the current state of IoT cybersecurity, the major challenges ahead, and a purview into any meaningful progress underway? Does Dark Cubed have any plans to expand into the IoT sector? 

Yes, we have already established a number of strategic partnerships, some public, some not, focused on improving security in consumer IoT. Consumer IoT key focuses for us out of a sense of responsibility and commitment. We feel strongly that the risk of foreign influence in consumer IoT must be addressed. We are deploying the largest sensor grid in the history of the world with consumer IoT, and China currently has command and control of a majority of that infrastructure.  

Neither Congress, nor industry, nor consumers have any coordinated approach to consumer IoT security, which is something we are actively working to change. You will be hearing more from us on this topic in the coming months.

Cybersecurity is among some of the most crowded fields of competition in the tech industry. What differentiates Dark Cubed from the competition and gives the company a distinct advantage? 

What is amazing to me is the success we are having in the market by following two simple principles:

1) Offer a product that is easy to use and reduces noise.

2) Actually deliver what we offer. There are many products marketed towards small and midmarket companies and MSPs that claim to be simple, easy, and cost-effective, but actually, they are not.  

The responses from MSPs that ask for a demo of our product due to our messaging and then actually see that we deliver on our promise has been the most humbling and exciting thing for me to see as a founder.  

Our conversion rates are incredibly high and don’t take long because people are looking for a simple, cost-effective solution, and we offer that.

Come and learn about the latest in everything business tech… Cybersecurity, Collaboration, UCaaS, the Channel, IT, IOT, Edge, AI, and the Future of Work at the world’s only MSP Expo part of the ITEXPO #TechSuperShow, Feb 12-14, 2020 Fort Lauderdale, FL.


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