Interview: Craig Newmark Scholar Chad Burgess on the importance of cybersecurity for startup organizations

Through the Craig Newmark Scholars Program, GCA hires veterans and journalists for one-year terms in positions where they will help drive GCA’s mission. The initiative offers these individuals an opportunity to begin or enrich a career path in cybersecurity. Today we are joined by Craig Newmark Scholar Chad Burgess who joined GCA on a one-year term in February. Chad served in the U.S. Army, is a graduate of both the Stern School of Business and Texas A&M and has worked closely with early-stage companies to secure funding and additional investment.

Welcome Chad!

Hi! Great to be here!

So Chad, you have spent much time working with start up organizations. Where does cybersecurity typically feature in their business and risk planning?

This is a great question and a very important aspect that many early stage start ups that I’ve worked with has overlooked. For a founder of a high potential company with maybe only 2-3 people on the team, time is usually dedicated to building the product, raising capital, selling, legal, etc. Cybersecurity is overlooked because it is not an immediate priority - unless it is too late! The cybersecurity of a company can seriously be threatened in many ranges from a founder dispute or disgruntled employee to technology and revenue theft.

Why do you think that is?

Cyber Security is a pretty low priority because it is often thought of as extremely difficult, expensive, and not an immediate need. This is partly true, as it does take a certain degree of knowledge or experience to figure out ways to protect your company, especially on a start up budget. Securing a company can really add up in terms of dollars and time, but with a little bit of coaching, overuse of dollars and time can be negated, and a startup can be very secure with very little to no money and minimal time.

How is the work GCA does helping with this?

This is what really attracted me to GCA. Bootcamps! These bootcamps are pretty short, usually 3 sessions, broken down into 1 hour a piece. They’re hands on and give entrepreneurs great coaching. Additionally, GCA has many free resources, including videos on their website that can help anyone with access to the web.

How can good cybersecurity help small businesses, both startup and established, with their own growth and sustainability?

For a startup, not only is it a necessary function to protect the company from a slew of potential threats that could really wreck the company, but it also shows potential investors that the founding team is forward looking and good stewards of the resources they’ve been provided. This helps develop trust, which is very important between early stage founders and investors. For more established small businesses, they face all the same threats as early stage start ups, but they generally already have a customer base and established business relationships. It is important to keep their company and client information secure - again retaining that trust with their clients and business relationships - too keep them from leaving to other businesses.

As a Craig Newmark Scholar what aspects of cybersecurity have you found most interesting, or surprising, during your time with GCA and what will you take with you from the program?

The team has been incredible. I’ve gained an immense amount of knowledge, with much more to learn, just through osmosis from the team - not to mention all the articles and other resources they’ve suggested. The most surprising thing I’ve learned is the reality of the problem - the amount of fraud that happens every day on the internet. To a certain extent, the internet is still the Wild Wild West. The creative solutions that the GCA team has created to both mitigate and fight against cyber crime is encouraging and a resource I know I can always draw from.

Thanks Chad for such an interesting insight, is there anything else you’d like to add?

I just really appreciate Craig Newmark for sponsoring my year at GCA, and those on the team who are dedicated to eliminating cyber crime. It’s been a great experience.

Great thanks again Chad! You can find out more about the Craig Newmark Scholars Program at Craig Newmark Scholars Program - Global Cyber Alliance