MixMode CEO John Keister discusses tackling cybersecurity threats and providing proactive customer support in the wake of COVID-19.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has introduced unprecedented cybersecurity challenges across industries. With companies in disparate sectors transitioning to work from home, cyber attacks targeted at individuals and businesses— from ransomware to phishing — have multiplied.
This week, we speak to John Keister, an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience. Keister is an experienced technology founder/executive and the CEO of MixMode, an AI-focused software company operating in the cybersecurity industry. Keister shares with us the challenges of working from home and what the switch to remote work means for cybersecurity companies.
Tackling Unprecedented Cybersecurity Challenges
COVID-19 has unearthed new cybersecurity challenges and marked digital security as a top priority for large enterprises and small businesses alike. As the pressure to adapt to telework increases, cybersecurity companies are experiencing increased demand for their services even as they facilitate their own transition to remote work. “There’s been an increase in cybersecurity awareness and demand over the last few years,” Keister observes. “The uptick in work-from-home traffic and the associated attacks have added to that demand.”
The pandemic has generated an impetus for growth that Keister doesn’t see slowing down any time soon. Increased telework combined with stringent data regulations mean that more companies now see increased cybersecurity spending as an unavoidable addition to their budget. A recent survey estimates that due to the impact of COVID-19, the global cybersecurity market will grow from $183.2 billion in 2019 to $230 billion by 2021.
To accommodate more employees working from home, many companies will need to improve endpoint security for their corporate laptops. Additionally, companies across industries will need to update incident response protocol and ensure monitoring capabilities can cover an expanded working environment. “The data is clear on the increase in attacks we have seen during the current pandemic,” Keister explains. “We’re going to see a ton of innovation in the next two, three years around working from home and security.”
Creating Opportunities for Proactive Customer Support
Fortunately, MixMode anticipated what the pandemic would mean for cybersecurity even before lockdown measures began. With a head start, they were able to work proactively with their clients to ensure that their networks could handle spikes in cyber attacks. As new work from home policies continue, MixMode is keen to support its customers in innovative ways. “We’ve been reaching out to all of our individual customers and saying, let us know how we can help?” Keister explains.
As the lockdown continued, MixMode offered customers in the healthcare field three months of free cybersecurity services. The company wanted to ensure that vital services would continue without the threat of network and computer systems compromises.
By accommodating industry changes and offering additional support, Keister and his team are finding ways to meet customers where they are. Often, this means focusing on productivity and efficiency gains for customers. “We’re working with the team on evolving our messaging and how we work with customers’ needs in this economy,” Keister notes. “In this environment, customers are keenly interested in adding productivity and efficiency at a fair price.”
Embracing Work from Home as the New Normal
As more employees switch to telework, many companies are experiencing network bandwidth challenges. MixMode is no exception. Many teams in the company were working remotely even before the pandemic began, but switching their entire operations to remote work while accommodating new projects required the company to significantly expand their network bandwidth.
MixMode employees are veterans at virtual communication using Zoom and Slack, but now, Keister regularly conducts video check-ins to ensure he maintains face-to-face contact with his colleagues. As the company adds more Zoom conferences to its calendar, MixMode also hopes to connect its employees in more recreational ways in order to promote company culture — from organizing virtual happy hours to virtual talent shows. “We have a number of talented musicians on the team, so the talent show was a great way for the team to come together,” said Keister.
Finally, MixMode encourages its employees to embrace the experience of working from home by scheduling time away from the screen and spending more time with family. Keister stresses that this can be especially important, given that the team won’t return to the office for some time.
“I think the genie is out of the bottle for employees. I think there’s going to be a major push towards flexibility long-term as far as working from home,” says Keister. “I think we’re not going to go back to the way it was.”