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Victor Calabrese
It's Not Personal; It's Just Business
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Through continuous learning, health and fitness, and an emotionally balanced life, Victor strives to be the best version of himself in order to provide leadership and long term improvements for coworkers, clients, family and friends. Victor is a proven problem solver with an uncanny ability to connect with people. He has always been able to execute and get results even when under pressure. He is an agile, quality-focused operational driver, critical thinker, and primary customer service leader credited with building world-class customer service and quality operations centered on responsive support. Many years in a variety of industries has brought him to co-create deskside, a total technology success partner, the evolution of a managed services provider combined with a world class managed security services provider.

In this episode

It's not personal. It's just business. How often have we heard that? But, it's the mantra small business owners need to keep in mind when you're thinking about not taking your cybersecurity strategy seriously because you think "It won't happen to me."

60% of small businesses that are hacked or suffer a ransomware attack will be out of business in 6 months. Your source of income, your legacy, the reason you get up in the morning is gone.

Cybersecurity is the thing that everybody’s talking about but nobody really knows what you need to do. On this week’s Centricity's Best Kept Secret show, Victor Calabrese of deskside talks with CEO, Jay Kingley and explains why more small businesses are targeted for ransomware than large, well-known businesses that get all the headlines.

Learn how hacker schools are pumping out the black hats by the thousands and why it makes sense for them to target small businesses first.

Victor shares 6 practical things that any sized business should do to get you cyber secure. It reminds me of the advice they give you on how to keep warm on bitterly cold days. Hint - it has something to do with layering.

It's Not Personal; It's Just BusinessVictor Calabrese
00:00 / 25:51

A glimpse of what you'll hear

02:25 Who's the target for hackers and ransomware

04:34 Hacker school

05:24 What you need to do to protect your business

08:43 60% of businesses who get hacked close down within 6 months

11:09 Cybersecurity insurance

16:21 Learn about Victor. Email Victor at

Episode Transcript
(Note: this was transcribed using transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast.)

Intro 0:04

Welcome to the Best Kept Secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a B2B services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co founder and CEO of Centricity, Jay Kingley.

Jay Kingley 0:43

I'm Jay Kingley co-founder and CEO of Centricity. Welcome to another episode of our Best Kept Secret Podcast, where I'm happy to welcome Victor Calabrese, he's the co-founder and president of deckside. deckside provides managed IT cloud and security services serving small and medium sized businesses. Victor is based in Dallas, Texas, Victor, welcome to the Best Kept Decret.

Victor Calabrese 1:11

Thank you, Jay. Awesome to be here.

Jay Kingley 1:14

All right. Excellent. Excellent. You know, it seems like every other article I read in the newspaper, or dare I even watch TV news. Every single episode is talking about hacking. It's talking about ransomware is talking about a breach of our IT security, whether it's government, whether it's large companies, of course, the small companies, they're not making the news. But I suspect and I think you're going to tell us that they're not immune from this. And it seems like that the frequency of this is increasing over time, not decreasing. And you almost get a sense of helplessness out there. Right. And it's almost like you're playing Russian roulette. And we know the Russians are behind some of this to where you just hope that it the it doesn't chamber up for you to end your professional day. So Victor, what is it when it comes to cybersecurity, your target market, the small and medium sized businesses? What aren't they getting about how to deal with is critical?

Victor Calabrese 2:25

Yeah, I mean, let me let me first touch on the point that you made, you're absolutely right, that the stuff that's making it to the news is the larger businesses, right. And that's what's being talked about all the time. But the reality of it is that the small medium business is probably a bigger target. And it's a more often target that nobody ever hears about. Because it's low hanging fruit. The big businesses have a bunch of security features that they have to get through really hard for these hackers to get there. Right? Small businesses, it's a quantity game, how many can we get? How much can we get from these places? So you know, the the thing that I tell small businesses, and a lot of my clients that they're not getting is all around this layered approach to security.

A lot of people think that, you know, they get a computer, and they have antivirus in there, and it's all good, we're protected. It's not so much the case, you know, security is a constant maintenance cycle, you have to keep your machines maintained, your networks maintained, you have to make sure the antivirus is maintained. On top of that there's a whole bunch of different layers that you can throw in there to continue to keep it more and more secure. So don't take it for granted. Don't think that you're not one of the people they're looking to attack? Because you definitely are everyone is and and try to do the best you can with the budget that you have.

Jay Kingley 3:46

Victor, I think maybe some people in the small mid size market think that, hey, these hackers are actually researching the companies they're going after. So why would they come after my business, because I'm not an interesting business. But tell me they're not really researching their targets. They're just blasting out there, and seeing who they can get into and get a quick score.

Victor Calabrese 4:11

Absolutely. So so there's there's a variety of types of attacks. And there's a variety of types of way that they're doing it but the the most common, and I want to go into into different things, but the most common is that they they lay a lot of traps out there. And that's either with email blast or links on websites or in things for people to just stumble into, that then offloads a payload onto your systems and gets you some sort of vulnerability, which then gives them access to your system which then let them lock you out, steal your data, all this different stuff that that they're capable of doing. The funny part is that most people don't understand that hacking is a business. And there's actually schools out there that are putting together classes for people to become hackers. You pay $1,000 and they give you all the software, everything you need to do. They teach you YouTube videos, you can find all this stuff on the internet. Where are those people, these newbies that are learning how to hack? What are they going to hack? They're going to hack the local bakery, they're going to hack the pizzeria, they're going to hack the small and medium businesses. So it's more pervasive than people really think it is. And it's not the large businesses. It's a lot of the smaller businesses.

Jay Kingley 5:21

Very interesting. So what I'm hearing you say, is that classic line, hey, this isn't personal. It's just business. And therefore, there's no free pass out there. Yep. Right. So given this issue, and given some of the struggles that you indicated, what is the solution? What should small and medium sized businesses, how should they be thinking about this problem? How should they be approaching cyber,

Victor Calabrese 5:46

So it's going back to what I said, Just Just think of cybersecurity, and security in general, as a layered approach, and there's different pieces that you put into place as you want less and less risk. So there's this there's a there's a marriage between your risk tolerance and how much you are willing to spend, right, and you just start layering these pieces of securities, in line with, with what you can afford, right? So bakeries not going to put the same things into action that a bank is going to put into that's, that would be ridiculous. No bakery could ever afford that sort of stuff, right. But do keep your machines up to date. Right? That's an easy fix. That's something that people don't really it's not top of mind, because they're not technology people. And a lot of times, Microsoft and Apple allow you to automate those processes, make sure your machines are up to date, make sure you have some sort of firewall in place, right. So a lot of your internet service providers are taking care of that for you. So these are layers that you're putting, make sure you have any antivirus, make sure you can use multi factor authentication to secure a lot of your passwords, we're getting used to it, it's becoming more normal for people to do that everybody has got a bank account is doing some sort of MFA. So there's other places that you could put those things into place, be more secure with your passwords, it's the little things right, don't write it down on a piece of paper and leave it on your desk. And I know it's funny for a lot of people, but there's people still doing that, right. Don't store your passwords on your internet browser. That's another big mistake. And a lot of people have Vic when he talking about it's Microsoft, or it's Google you I can't trust them. I'm not saying you can't trust them what I am saying you should be a little bit more reluctant to share that information and put it somewhere that it's stored. Because I could come right behind you on your computer and I have access to all your passwords or a staff member has access to all your password just because they have access to your computer.

Jay Kingley 7:41

Right, that makes that makes an awful lot of sense. It sounds like the approach that you're advocating reminds me of when I did my undergraduate days at Cornell and Ithaca, New York and the bitter lake effect wind in the winter. And the only way you could keep warm is through layering. And it sounds like it's that similar approach, the more layers that you're going to put in place, the more secure you are in perhaps the more that they will lose interest in going to the next guy who's not taking the protections.

Victor Calabrese 8:16

Yeah, and that's another really good point j is because it, there is no 100% secure, I don't care if you have all the money in the world that if they if they want to hack you they will hacking. The real thing is how difficult Are you making it so it's just not worth it for them, they just move on to the next person, because it's too much trouble to get into your information to make X amount of dollars. So that's where there's that risk and reward, how much you willing to risk how much you willing to spend to protect yourself as compared to how much you really sacrificing if you do get hacked.

Jay Kingley 8:51

Yeah, like you said, it's a business, think about your adversary, as if they were a competitor. And I think you'll start to get your mind going in the right direction. Now, you make obviously a very compelling case, on layering as a way to think about securing yourself, your business from these attacks. So let's talk a little bit about sort of the cost and the benefit, if you will, to taking these measures versus not, you know, what's at stake here? And what's the rationale for me wanting to invest in making sure that I'm safe.

Victor Calabrese 9:27

So in the most extreme of sense, you're really risking your entire business, right? So 60% of businesses that get some sort of ransomware or get hacked in some way go out of business within six months of that attack. And that's that's a reality. That's not something I'm trying to spark an emotional reaction from people. That's just numbers, statistics, it happens all the time. But you know, there is ways you could mitigate that stuff and not everything has to cost you a fortune. A lot of times it's just the simple stuff. You know, anti virus, keep your computer up to date, making sure that your DNS zone is correct. Little things like that don't write things down. I mean, not writing out password on a piece of paper, if it cost you nothing, right? It's just a mind shift. And understanding that that sort of stuff is important doesn't cost you anything, education of your staff. That's another big one, right? Making sure that they're not clicking on links, they're not supposed to be clicking on understanding the dangers of the internet. There's ways that you can take care of that stuff, even if you self educate, and then educate your staff that would pay off dividends, right? Because it's also with a culture or an education culture in your company. It's its repetitiveness, you have to keep it out there. You have to keep it top of mind so that people don't say, Oh, yeah, that's a that's not a good thing to do. Clicking on the link, you know, you get an email from your CEO that says, Go buy me 500 gift cards and send them here, I would probably check on that by placing a phone call before I would do it. I mean, even if it looks like it's coming from them, there's a lot of crafty hackers out there that could socially engineer a lot of the things that just look right. And a lot of times, it's one misspelled character that makes the difference, right. So if you don't have that attention to detail, you may get to the situation where you're doing something that you shouldn't be doing.

Jay Kingley 11:22

Right now, Victor, all of us in small business mid market, just like the big boys, we have insurance agents, insurance brokers, they come to us and one of the things I know we get pitched on all the time, add cyber security policy. So why not just say, you know what, this is too much for me. It's way beyond my paygrade. So what I'm going to do, instead of paying money to do the things that you're talking about, how about I just put that money, buy some insurance and sleep well at night? What's the issue with that kind of stress?

Victor Calabrese 11:57

So the the biggest issue is that, unfortunately, insurance companies or fortunately, I should say, have gotten wise to that. And and a lot of them aren't even underwriting a liability policy, forget about a cyber policy. But they're not underwriting these insurance policy unless you have certain protocols and certain things in place. Because the problem is real. It's just like you said in the beginning of the podcast, right, we're hearing about the big companies, we're not hearing about the little companies, and a lot of these problems are hitting the insurance companies in the pockets. Because at the end of the day, they underwrite that policy, and somebody has to pay out $100,000 for some sort of crypto locker or whatever the insurance company is writing a check for that. So a lot of insurance companies are now getting to the point and IT is getting involved in a lot of these times for to write an insurance policy, it is at the table and saying, oh, here's a checklist. What are we doing? Are we locking the server room? are you allowing people access to these servers? Do you have a password policy? There's all these things that the insurance companies are actually making you write on paper and proving to them that you have in place before they even underwrite you.

Jay Kingley 13:04

And then when you file that claim, they're going to demand proof that all the things that you represented, you've actually done or else they're going to deny their claim. And they're going to win.

Victor Calabrese 13:15

Yeah, absolutely. And and to add one more than that, is, even if they pay that claim, a lot of times you are no longer insurable. So you've got another pump now, because now you've been attacked, you've, you've proven that you had these things in place, you still got attacked, you had to pay out the insurance company of how they drop you now to go get another insurance company to underwrite you is going to be almost impossible.

Jay Kingley 13:42

Not so long ago, I was talking to a business owner small business. But they were you know, over a million dollars in revenue, and he wanted to get a cybersecurity policy. And they asked him all these questions. And he gave them all the answers that they wanted to hear. And they gave him the policy. Well, he got nailed. And he was stunned to find that his claim was denied. Because before they would pay out anything, they audited, all those procedures and policies and safeguards found out he didn't do hardly any of them in his coverage just vanished. So you aren't going to fool those who know.

Victor Calabrese 14:24

And you're playing with fraud, which is another big topic here. I'm surprised they didn't press charges on that gentleman, or as they did, we don't know about it. But I mean, you are it is it is an insurance policy, like any other insurance policy. So if you're saying that you're doing something, you better be doing it.

Jay Kingley 14:41

Right. Well, one thing, Victor that you said, which I think should get, give everybody pause is how 60% of small and midsize businesses who are getting successfully hacked are out of business within six months and for a lot as business owners, this is our life. This is our legacy, you know, we we perhaps, are second or even third generation. But even if we've started the business for many of us, it is either our retirement nest egg, or it is the legacy we want to live leave to our children to to take and gone, just because we weren't smart, and didn't take those protections that you talked about. Fascinating, compelling. Now we're going to take a short break right now. And when we come back, we're going to learn Victor a little bit more about you also

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Jay Kingley 16:39

Welcome back. Let's find out a bit more about Victor. Victor, I want to start with understanding deck side, what are the two or three pain points beyond cybersecurity, that you really focus on with your clients in what makes it challenging enough that they need your help.

Victor Calabrese 16:59

So um, you know, security, just an aspect of technology, obviously, we we handle a whole bunch of different things. But the biggest is frustration with their technology, a lot of people, as technology keeps evolving, it keeps getting more complicated on the back end. So in order to leverage all these services, you have to understand how they interconnect. So a lot of people say, Oh, I'd love to use this application, but then they don't know how to make this application work with their current accounting package or their current CRM. So frustration with that is is one of the biggest options. Another big point is is being able to leverage the things that actually push the company forward. Right? So what is the right technology? As a technologist, I spend days learning about what's out there, what's available, how do I use it, right? A lot of business owners, that's not what they do, you know, they're in the business of selling cars. So they're in the business of manufacturing something, and they should be focusing on that business, because that's what makes them their revenue. Understanding how to get a specific CRM to function within their business process to make the business more efficient, or automate a process. It's not something they should really be working towards, I need that information. But it's up to a technologist to be able to disseminate that information, rip apart the process and then put technology in place to make the business hum. So that that's a big one. That's one of my favorites. I actually fell in love with technology because of automation of business processes. And then that the other one that I don't get as much these days, and maybe it's because of the type of company that we're focused on. But it's the constant struggle with technology issues, a lot of times and it just happened last week, the funny that said, but last week, we had a client that though our potential client that came in and says, Victor, why is it that every day I come into my office, I have to unplug the firewall, wait 60 seconds, plug it back in, in order for me to get my business going. This what people are dealing with on a regular basis. And I tell them, I said, well, that's not normal, that shouldn't be a process that you need to handle something is not right, we should look at that and fix it so that you don't have to do that on a regular basis. So those are your your three major pain points that we deal with consistently.

Jay Kingley 19:20

Alright, perfect. Now, I think it would be an understatement to say that you probably have a bit of competition. And of course, as we all do, everybody in the B2B space, none of us are short of competition. So the challenge, of course, that we all have is when we talk to prospects and clients about what it is that we do, we sound pretty much like everybody else who does what we do. And none of us want to buy average. And when that's the only choice that we give our customers of course, they're going to choose on the basis of low price and you're not going to be recognized for the value that you provide. So instead, I like to ask a different question. And my question is why What makes you and deskside great at what you do?

Victor Calabrese 20:03

So the biggest differentiator for this because you're absolutely right, that there's not a shortage of competition, I mean, pretty much anybody that that likes a computer is my competition, right, and they have a friend that needs some Computer Services and also know I can take care of that for you. So the biggest differentiator for deskside is we've been here since early 2000. We've been in MSP. So we have been in this game for a very long time. But we're trying to evolve this game. So our experience is monumental. I've been a C level exec for bigger, larger companies, or my partner has been C level executive. For larger companies, we have that experience that we bring to the table. And we now offer that to small medium businesses, which traditionally they don't have access to talent like ours. The other big one, and this is one of the cornerstones that we built that site on is we have no bias. A lot of our competition out there are an HP shop or their Dell shop, they stick to those vendors. Because those vendors give them bigger margins, the more they they they're able to sell. We don't do that we're vendor agnostic, we believe that the right solution is based on the client, not whatever margin I can make off that client. So we take that very seriously, it doesn't matter if you're a Google shop, you're an apple shop, you're a Microsoft shop, it doesn't matter to us, we want to just bring you the best technology that serves your business as best they can. And then the other one is transparency. So we're very transparent with our pricing. We don't try to hide behind our pricing, one of the things that I'm trying to do is actually put my pricing on my website, so that people can actually see this is how much it is, my competition doesn't like that. They'll sit there, and they'll hide it. And they'll say, oh, we're charging this much per computer, and then they'll put in this much for the email, and they but I don't want any of that stuff. This is how much it costs, you know, I'm making a decent margin. And that's all there is to it.

Jay Kingley 22:01

Alright, beautiful. Last question for you. I encourage everybody, by the way to go to your LinkedIn profile, take a look at what I call your LinkedIn resume. See how you started out where you're at now. But my question is on the why, what are one or two things that happened, whether it's in your personal life or in your professional lifet hat would tell us why you're sitting here as the President of deskside

Victor Calabrese 22:28

that's a really interesting question. And every time somebody asked me that, I go all the way back to two right out of college, I started working, my dad was in construction, all his life. And I grew up around construction and trailers and, and back when I got out of college, the construction industry just started putting servers on site. And I got a job and I thought I thought I was going to be in construction, like my dad just fall in his footsteps. And then they had the server on site, which nobody really knew what to do with. On top of that, I'm a people person. I like pleasing people, like people being happy. I don't like people being frustrated. And I saw this dichotomy I had the server, which is supposed to make us better, right, more efficient, help us out. But I still have frustrations and everybody's face every time that thing just wouldn't work the way was expected. So I started tinkering, I started playing. And I found that I enjoyed it. And I enjoyed two sides of it. One is making the tech work. But two is Vic helped me with this, Vic helped me with this, can you help me and I loved it, I just love being able to help those people and just get their their process, you know, fast forward, years into into of experience and education and an ag on my master's degree. And I got to the point that I started seeing business processes. Well, you know, once I got out and got my MBA, I started understanding what a financial statement was, I started understanding the insides of a business. And when I started understanding that and I started seeing Well, these business processes are actually affecting the P&L or actually affecting the balance sheet. Well, what if I marry technology to help these processes and actually affect the way the bottom line and your gross margin all these things, and that's when I fell in love with it all. And I was like, This is great. And that's where deskside comes in a lot of our processes, a lot of our automation, a lot of the things that we do is all around, we're business people. First, we understand technology, tell me your business problem. And I will try to find the solution, we will find the solution to make that all work. So that's that's really where I fall in love with tech and business and all the stuff that brings it together.

Jay Kingley 24:34

Victor, that's fabulous. Now you have given us an awful lot to think about today. But I'm going to challenge our listeners not just to think about it, but to act upon it. Because there is too much at stake for you not to be doing a lot of the things that Victor has laid out. Now. I'm guessing Victor, that a number of people are going to want to reach out to you, given the expertise that you've demonstrated on our show today. So tell the folks how best to reach you. So

Unknown Speaker 25:05 the easiest way is to email me directly Victor@ D e s k s i d or go to our website that And you can see we're launching a new website within the end of this month. The other great place to get me is on my LinkedIn. I'm always connecting with people and and nj. People shouldn't just reach out to me because there's a business he reached out to me just asked me a question. I'm always about helping people. So if you have something, I'm there to help and if we can talk and I can make your life a little easier. That's great. I'm here to help.

Jay Kingley 25:40

Fabulous and we'll put Victor's contact information in our show notes make it easy for everybody to reach out. Take advantage of his generosity, you will absolutely benefit from tapping into this gentleman's expertise and insight. Victor, thank you so much for being on the Best Kept Secret podcast and videocast to my listeners. Until next time, let's crush it out there. Take care, folks.

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