Home » Frankfort start-up shares its experience at fending off hackers

Frankfort start-up shares its experience at fending off hackers

By  Matt Wickstrom

Craig Willard, left, and Nick Landers are two of the leaders behind Frankfort-based SimplifIT, a company specializing in managed cybersecurity and IT services.

After noticing far too many small businesses struggling to adapt to new technology and the risks associated with them, Craig Willard and Nick Landers teamed up to help launch Frankfort-based SimplifIT in January.

The duo and their partners bring over 40 years of experience in health care, cybersecurity, banking, regulations, marketing and sales to their work, including over 15 years from Willard as director of IT at Frankfort Regional Medical Center, a subsidiary of Hospital Corporation of America, one of the country’s largest health-care providers. Willard, who left the medical center in March, is excited to bring his prior knowledge and experience to SimplifIT as its chief operating officer.

“I went back into the technology field because I felt that there was a gap in helping local businesses be more secure and as safe as we were able to be at Frankfort Regional Medical Center,” said Willard. “To be able to apply that level of knowledge and experience to a local business and provide that same level of awareness, dedication and offerings is crucial.”

SimplifIT offers managed service solutions including centralized management of antivirus patching, vCIO planning and strategizing for the future, dark web security, PIN testing, network infrastructure design and more. Willard warns that as technology continues to grow, the risks associated with it and the sophistication of hackers will grow as well. Businesses, particularly small businesses, are at high risk for attack, often with little financial room to spare for such an expense. According to Willard, 60 percent of small businesses will be attacked this year, and of those 50 percent will go out of business due to the inability to pay costly fines associated with the breaches.

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Willard attributes small businesses’ slowness to adapt to the growing sophistication of and risk from hackers is due to a lack of knowledge on the subject plus a lack of room in their budgets for technology. Most small businesses’ budgets get tied up in marketing and having product on hand. To help owners to better understand these risks and how they can counteract them, SimplifIT offers free strategic planning sessions.

In total, 80 percent of breaches come from compromised user IDs and passwords, according to Willard, who stresses that businesses now need to act proactively to detect and block hacking efforts rather than reactively to active hacking.

SimplifIT proactively monitors all clients’ logs and files, looking for any red flags and breach attempts, even those that were unsuccessful, to prevent them in the future. The company reports observing 500 to 600 breach attempts per minute on its clients, which SimplifIT can track down to the port level and IP address. Through its monitoring, SimplifIT found $2 million in risk for its clients in the last quarter alone.

This risk includes protected info such as Social Security and credit card numbers, dates of birth, names and other personal information that are deemed available to hackers in the event of a breach, which are then aligned with a corresponding fine amount from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to come to a final number. Willard stresses going the extra mile for security and peace of mind, particularly with the financial constraints and hit to a business’s reputation that can come with a breach.

“You know how to run your house, but the anxiety associated with this risk can be overwhelming,” said Willard. “That’s where we come in as a partner and say ‘You do what you do well – run your business, run your house – and we’ll keep you as safe as we can so that you can do what you do best.’”

SimplifIT currently provides cyber security and IT services to a handful of clients in the Frankfort area including the Associated General Contractors of Kentucky and the Mechanical Contractors Association of Kentucky. For more information on SimplifIT and its services, visit wesimplifit.com.