Wisconsin Veterans Forward

Why Cybersecurity Pros in the US Are Worried About the War in Ukraine (Part 1)

July 11, 2022 Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce Season 2 Episode 148
Wisconsin Veterans Forward
Why Cybersecurity Pros in the US Are Worried About the War in Ukraine (Part 1)
Show Notes Transcript

(Part 1) The conflict between Russia and Ukraine may be taking place thousands of miles from the United States -- but the impact is being felt globally.

There are new and greater cybersecurity threats to be aware of here at home as a result of this war, as well.

We welcome Bryan Sevener of Valortech to give us the rundown.

Learn more about Bryan here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryansevener/

Learn more about Valortech here: https://www.valortech.io/

Questions? Comments? Continue the discussion by requesting access to our exclusive WVF Facebook Group.

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Wisconsin Veterans Forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization that serves veterans and military families by supporting veteran owned and veteran-friendly businesses throughout the state. 

On behalf of our members, we serve as an advocate for Wisconsin’s veteran business community and promote economic opportunity for military veterans, military families, and veteran-friendly businesses.

Follow us on all platforms: https://linktr.ee/Wivetschamber

 

Intro & Outro Themes: 

Barry Dallas - I’m Gone (https://uppbeat.io/t/barry-dallas/im-gone)

Noise Cake - Light It Up (https://uppbeat.io/t/noise-cake/light-it-up)

Speaker 1:

Today on Wisconsin veterans forward. Boy, it sure has been a heck of a tech month. We have talked about some really interesting topics this month, man, alive talked about , uh , e-sports ecosystem opportunities for veterans and military family members, which was really cool. Uh, we've talked about cyber security compliance and how that is becoming a facet of landing , uh , high profile, big money do OD and state level government contracts , uh , at federal and state level contracts and DOD contracts like crazy stuff, really informative stuff. I've learned a lot. That's something I love about this job. I get to ask smart people questions about things that they do, and I get to learn cool stuff and talk to cool people. And today it's gonna be no exception. Uh , Brian sevener is a friend of ours has been a friend of our organization for a long, long, long, long time. Uh, he's the founder of valor tech . We can get into all that stuff. Uh , and , and we are overarchingly today talking about how , uh, things that are happening around the world and in particular, the war in Ukraine, Russia's invasion of Ukraine , uh , and that conflict there, how that is impacting the cybersecurity world. And this is a guy veteran I might add, who is in the trenches, doing this, defending us and businesses against cybersecurity threats on the daily. He has boots on the ground, frontline defender, and he's helping other people shore up their defenses as well. This guy knows this stuff, but before we get into that, just briefly, I really want to touch on his entrepreneurial journey. Cuz as a businessman, Brian's been absolutely killing it out there. I feel like I haven't talked to him in like a year and a half just cuz he's been so darn busy, which a good problem to have when you're an entrepreneur. I mean busy, is it not like busy buddy busy, but like, like he's got business. So I wanna talk about his journey for a bit , cause that's , that's gonna be very, I think, informational and inspiring, but also let's, we'll , we'll , we'll kind of snake it on into the state of his world right now. And the things that we may not think have a correlation that are impacting our world from a tech and a cybersecurity standpoint and things that we need to be aware of as consumers, as business owners, as professionals, we're gonna bring the thunder here as we close out tech month , uh , with some pretty valuable information looking forward to getting into it right after this , you are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward. Wisconsin's premier audio resource for veterans, military families, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses. Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce@wiveteranschamber.org . I still think hands down . My favorite part of that video is the right hand side where our president and CEO Saul Newton is, is petting a Lama at a that . And that's not an unrelated thing for those of you that don't know it was last summer already. We were traveling throughout the state visiting business owners who are members of the chamber. And one of them is frost, farm alpacas in the middle of smack dab in the of Wisconsin. And we, we visited and we stopped in and we, we bought a whole bunch of cool alpacas stuff from their farm store and we got to meet the alpacas. It was awesome, man . See , and that's what we do. You know, we are, we are housed. We are headquartered in Milwaukee, but we serve the whole state and not just , uh, metropolitan areas. Yeah, we serve Milwaukee course. That's where we started. We serve Madison in a hands on face to face boots on the ground capacity, green bay, as far as O Claire , we, we we've gone as far north and east as Altoona and we're continuing to lay out our, our plans and groundwork work to pound the PA . So we can provide that face to face service in addition to remote, you know, support throughout the state. But I digress. I'm a fan of the chamber. I gotta throw that out there. Ladies and gentlemen, very happy to introduce our good friend, Brian Seffner. What's up, dude.

Speaker 2:

How's it going? Did how you been

Speaker 1:

Good? Was that like, was , was , was that an accurate intro? Uh, was it, did it get you pumped up? Was it the video? Was it the alpaca part of the video? Talk to me?

Speaker 2:

Well, it was kind of funny when, when I saw, I saw that little snippet in that and I was thinking the same thing, like that's SA petting an alpaca.

Speaker 1:

It is

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm <affirmative> uh , and I was actually thinking it should have been a goat

Speaker 1:

It a goat, because so is , so is ,

Speaker 2:

Cause you could say that he is the goat, then

Speaker 1:

He is the greatest of all time and yeah , man . So , so I , I wanna dive right in . Cause I feel like there's a lot of stuff to talk about. You are currently the founder CEO, the head , uh , M F I C in charge of valor tech .

Speaker 2:

Yes. And am , how did you and I am also a college professor at Lakeland university.

Speaker 1:

Oh , how do you like that? Probably talking about cyber security stuff.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I, I do a , I run the majority of that , uh , cyber security program that's being built up there. So it standing , uh ,

Speaker 1:

It's pretty broad . So what brought you there connect the dots for us? So you were a service member, did you do it and tech stuff and cyber defense and okay. So how did you get from, from, from there to here?

Speaker 2:

You know, it's kind of weird, like the it's an interesting journey. I, I grew up in a very unique household. My dad was an electrical engineer and I'm a, I'm a child of the eighties and, and nineties. And uh , so we were talking very early, you know, computers right long before they were even networked per se. Um, at least networked in , you know, as we know it right now, but uh <laugh> so I grew up, I grew up as a five, you know, both five give or take, I was, you know, playing games on like an old , uh , I wanna say like an old Commodor 64 and then, you know, my first like real PC was an Intel 3 86. So we're talking very, very old.

Speaker 1:

I had a 2 86 before that just, you know,

Speaker 2:

Nice. And this is back in the day when you could just upgrade the PC to a 4 86 and you're like, wow, so

Speaker 1:

Much power . Oh man. Yeah , it was groundbreaking <laugh> but literally groundbreaking cuz the PC weighed 475 pounds.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I mean you needed a , you needed a forklift to move it. Right. <laugh> but uh, but on top of that grew up in, on a small farm , uh, outside of Sheboygan. Um, but with a dad that was the electrical engineer, so I got kind of this and he was a , a unique individual as well. He was also a tool and dye maker . So I had this upbringing in tech tool and dye making , so manufacturing and, and it was an active tool and dye shop , um, and farming. So I , I got this wide breadth of exposure to different things and uh, early on, I just, you know, I , I found an interest in, in, in tech in one way , shape or form , um, did a typical high school stuff. I , I was not some, a student. I was a, B and C student getting in trouble, doing things that you do in , in , in the back 40 with , uh , a bottle Jameson or Jack Daniels that you smuggled from your dad's cabinet.

Speaker 1:

You know , why, why, why do I, I , I totally believe that <laugh> , I, I totally believe that,

Speaker 2:

You know , you get done with football on Friday and you know, let's go hit the back 40 and throw up a bonfire. Right. So mm-hmm <affirmative>, that was my upbringing. It wasn't anything spectacular. Uh , but it was a lot of fun. And then , uh, fast forward to about 2003 , uh, I lost my dad to a , uh , to a heart attack UN unexpectedly and I , I was struggling at the time I was already in the military. I was on active duty. I really wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do in life, but that kind of cab halted me into , um, kind of the tech area. Uh , interesting little tidbit is this is kind of at the earlyish stages of E cycling and eBay was coming up. And, you know, I remember going on eBay and seeing a bunch of like old used hardware for sale. And I was like , oh, pennies. I got curious. And I decided that, you know what, this is kind of the whole beginning of like I'll tie into the entrepreneurism here in a second. I got into that and uh, uh, I started buying for a penny selling for a dollar. So I would get hardware in, flip it for a dollar and I was making some pretty good money. Mm-hmm <affirmative> the real entrepreneurism kind of started even earlier back kind of going back to when I was about five, my dad used to make these little circuit boards mm-hmm <affirmative> and I was five or six give or take. And I used to solder those circuit boards by hand. I used to get a dollar aboard. So by the time I was, I wanna say seven, I had about $700 in the bank already. Nice. So the entrepreneurism is always there. So fast forward again, you know, early two thousands, I'm in the military active duty. I thoroughly tick off a couple of people. I shouldn't have ticked off , uh, because I had shipments of computers coming in the base. When, you know, here I am a little, you know, mosquitoe weighing private and , uh, doing really

Speaker 1:

Stupid . They probably thought that looked a little bit suspicious. I'm guessing just a tad,

Speaker 2:

The CSM that caught me that wasn't real thrilled with me, but , uh , I lived through all that and , uh, got, you know, so fast forward I did my time did my, my time I got off of active duty went national guard. Um ,

Speaker 1:

So just to clarify, did your time, as in you completed your tenure with the military, not did your time, as in you went to jail for the computer parts

Speaker 2:

Thing <laugh> no. No. Okay . I avoided jail Thankfully avoided prison and jail time to this point, I'm kind hoping to keep that trend going <laugh> but , uh , the , um , uh , so I did my time in this service , uh , got out , uh , active duty, got out, went national guard. Um, and that's kind of really where I started my career. I had gotten my bachelor's degree in , uh , information systems management , uh, on, when I was active duty. I got , um, uh, got out. It wasn't until about 2014 where I started my ma one, my master's degrees. I got my master , just my , um , a master's in finance. Then , uh, I went on to finish a master's in accounting and then a master's in their national business. Why I picked three. Why not? Um ,

Speaker 1:

Three master's degrees.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Hmm ,

Speaker 2:

Good for you. And then , and now top it off, I'm also a PhD student at , uh , Capella university,

Speaker 1:

A doctor. I love it.

Speaker 2:

I, I hate labels like that. <laugh> so much, but , uh, you know, so I , I I've, I've just always kind of liked it. I , I was working in it. I was an infrastructure engineer for another local, bigger, you know, it firm , uh, they're not, I , they , yeah, they got bought out. They're no longer around, but , um , cut my teeth in there for till about 2016, give or take and, you know, that's kind of right where, you know, the ransomwares and whatnot , we're starting to kind of pick up , uh , pick up , uh , some steam. And , uh, I just saw that as kind of being the future for, for security with , with our clients. Um, and I completely kind of changed the approach that we were doing roll a whole business plan to it. Um, and when I presented it to the management, they basically told me, you don't know what you're talking about. Sit down to just do your job. Really kind of a , kind of a really bad thing to say to a guy like me. So started , you know, creating some waves a little bit because I was pretty confident in what I, you know, was putting together. Uh , HR eventually told me to , uh, stop it or they were gonna take action. Well , they took action and fired me. And , um, I started valor tech about, I don't know , three months later.

Speaker 1:

Okay .

Speaker 2:

Yeah . And you've

Speaker 1:

Been ,

Speaker 2:

It's just

Speaker 1:

Snowballing ever since

Speaker 2:

It it's TA it took a couple years. It was not an easy road. It , I mean, I did this. It never is. Yeah , I did . I didn't take any kind of investment money. I used what money I had in savings. Again , I , I bootstrapped this to the Y degree mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and there are days where, you know, I was contemplating just, you know, what I was going to do, how I was going to make the bills , um , uh , perseverance if I , if I didn't have the military background and just that, like, get done, kind of added . Can I swear in here? Um , keep it , keep it mild. All right .

Speaker 1:

Yeah. <laugh>

Speaker 2:

Keep it .

Speaker 1:

Well, you did. And there's nothing we can do about it. So we'll just , well ,

Speaker 2:

I won't go as far. I won't go full infantry grunt

Speaker 1:

It's okay . I mean, we, we check the button on YouTube that says, this is not for kids,

Speaker 2:

Probably safe when you have a ,

Speaker 1:

We do that just cause like we, this would this pop up on the YouTube kids' app and a kid would be like, oh , I wanna learn about cybersecurity as it pertains to world events. Probably not. So we just save everybody the trouble and we click no, not for kids . So you're probably okay .

Speaker 2:

It let me know. <laugh>

Speaker 1:

I'm curious. You you're fine.

Speaker 2:

But , uh, so, you know, perseverance, I mean , you , you had to be, you had to persevere, there was no other way around it. And , uh, um, went through a lot of trying times. We really got our, it took about three years for us to really get our footing. And it was one phone call, one phone call when I was at my lowest mm-hmm <affirmative> that changed everything it was. And it was just, I normally don't pick up my phone if it's after hours. I'm just, especially when it's late after hours, right. Especially numbers. I'm not really familiar with mm-hmm <affirmative> um, I just so happen to pick up this phone call and it, we, it launched valor into that was just one stepping stone of many that , uh, launched us to where we are today and, and we're doing very well. We've seen very significant growth. Uh, we've hit triple digit growth in , in many, many years now. Um, we're , we're doing really

Speaker 1:

Well. You're doing though , just to clarify for people who aren't familiar with that it's cyber security support for , for business, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That's one aspect of what we do. Uh , we're we initially started out is just your typical MSP where we're just doing and providing match services , uh , um , match your desktop support and stuff. But , uh, we really kind of , uh, we took a different approach to that and we really layer on and a , a MSSP approach to our MSP program. Um, so everything we do is gear towards a , a security focused , uh , approach. Um, you know, you can see you want desktop support. Well, that's great, but we are gonna be doing a deep dive into what technologies you're using because we are , Um, we really do stay on top of technology a lot more than what your average, you know, your average it expert does. That's part of our, part of our organization. Um, and , uh, so as we take that, that security first approach and apply that to our clients and prospective clients, we really do start showcasing a lot of what the gaps are. One of the things we kind of really do well, is that because not one, you know, one size doesn't fit all. We really have to do a, a deep dive into what you actually do as a company, how you operate, what technologies you currently utilize to, you know, generate your, your revenue , um, because all of those have different security , uh, different secur security issues that are associated with them. And understanding that really helps us cater and, and , uh, um, adjust our approach to your infrastructure.

Speaker 1:

So, so we, I mentioned at the beginning that we were gonna be talking about, you know, the defense and the cybersecurity angle of what you do. And obviously you have a very deep knowledge and understanding , uh , you mentioned being continuously aware of changing trends in cybersecurity is, is really, I mean, that's the name of the game it's always changing because the aggressors and the people who are attacking are always trying to find new ways and new vulnerabilities and new ways to new weaknesses to exploit. And , uh, but there are certain current events that may seem far removed from cyber security that aren't, and this is something we talked about on the front end , uh , before we went live. But , uh , in particular, the war in Ukraine right now, Russia and Ukraine, that conflict is having an impact in your ecosystem. And I , I can't being , uh , a novice, I don't know what I'm talking about. I can't, for the life of me link up the relationship between cyber security defense for a small business in Wisconsin and the war in Ukraine. Um, but from what I understand, from what you've said, that those global issues reverberate in the cybersecurity world, can you connect those dots for us?

Speaker 2:

Well, it it's, we live in a very highly connected world. Uh, you can't cross the street without having the ability to access something across the globe, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, because of that connectivity, that, that basically means that anybody can get access to anything from anywhere. I don't need to be sitting next to you to start trying to get access to your bank account, or, you know, trying to turn off the lights on your Google smart home. Um, you know, that that's, well , we enjoy the connectivity that also allows nefarious actors to attempt to gain access to

Speaker 1:

You. And we're out of time, but we're gonna pick this up in the very next episode, which is sitting there waiting for you right now, Wisconsin veterans forward. We will see you over there. Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward , brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit us@iveteranschamber.org . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening through.