For more than 35 years, Kyber Security has provided essential internet services to small and medium-sized businesses throughout Fairfield County and beyond. Founded in 1985 as Connect Computer, the company started out providing critical information technology services at a time when few realized how central the internet and networked computing would become.
Earlier this month, Kyber Security moved out of offices in Fairfield for a larger space in Trumbull. Relocating its office did not cost the company clients or even availability. In fact, it has let them capitalize on the same advantages their clients have been discovering during the pandemic.
“Five to 10 years ago,” Chief Information Officer Bob Thomas said, “I would say that if you drew a 60-mile circle around Fairfield you’d probably hit 90% of our clients. Now, I think three of the four latest clients aren’t in the state of Connecticut at all.”
In 2004, several employees bought out the founders of Connect Computer and began to update it for a modern, connected world with a larger emphasis on security. In 2017, the new owners updated both the branding and the name, trading the red of Connect Computer to the violet of Kyber Security. The name was chosen as a reference to the crystals that power Jedi lightsabers in the “Star Wars” movies.
“We wanted to have an answer for how to better secure small businesses,” explained Thomas during a brief window in a schedule packed with responding to the evolving cybersecurity situations being partially driven by the digital fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Everybody at the time was doing quote-unquote ‘managed services’ focused on maximizing up time and productivity, but nobody was considering what the next big problem was going to be.”
Thomas, who was involved in the buyout alongside Lynn Souza, the current owner and CEO, described the approach taken by many managed service providers as “bolting on” security products to their offerings. Looking at emerging threats, the newly christened Kyber team knew that approach wouldn’t suffice.
“We wanted to secure all of our stuff to a high level, even higher than what we do for our clients,” Thomas said. “We hired a gray-hat hacker, brought him in, and drew up a typical small-to-midsize network on a conference room white board and said ‘Okay, how would you get in?’”
According to Thomas, while intensive exercises and the latest technology are critical components of providing customers with the best security possible, they’re just part of the Kyber approach.
“When we took over the company, we started looking for people with the right mindset,” he said. “We only hire people who have a desire to be involved with security. It’s not enough to have every certification under the sun if you can’t talk to people, if you can’t think on your feet. If you can’t follow the breadcrumbs back to where the breach happened, you’re not the right person to be in cybersecurity.”
The emphasis on training also extends to the many webinars that Kyber hosts for clients, which Thomas described as central to being able to fend off cyberattacks at least as much as having the latest software and patches. He stated that while Kyber or other cybersecurity companies can do everything they can to protect against these events, it is important to remember that ultimately people make decisions and need to properly understand risks. This is especially true in the current business environment where many people are using personal devices or logging into offices remotely.
And Thomas has plenty of horror stories related to cybercrime, ranging from simple scams involving the clicking of seemingly benign links to having a man dressed as a Comcast employee arriving at a company and simply asking for access to a server room without supervision in order to enact immense damage.
“With cyberwarfare, if you’re underserved on the security side, $65,000 goes missing,” Thomas said of one case where Kyber was contacted after a hack. “We got another case where they called us from New Hampshire. We went up and there was $120,000 gone by the time we get there. They’re not getting that back.”