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Where in the World is Matt Lee?

Matt Lee, Director of Technology and Security, Iconic IT

Matt Lee struggles to find a half hour of free time, discusses Solar Winds, and reflects on 2020

December was a massive month for meetings and on-screen presentations. I participated in the virtual mission briefing, planning for our internal Iconic IT webinar, sat in for our internal continuous improvement board, the MSP in the Community board, a ConnectWise corporate advisory meeting, and the usual mashup of meetings, partner advisory councils, and presentations. All told, I had about a half-hour to myself, on average, each day in December. During that brief downtime, however, I made some real progress in strengthening our backup platforms. And (my new normal thanks to Zoom), I have become a master of being in two (and sometimes more) places at once.

My most sobering moment was my appearance on The Morning Breach to discuss the Solar Winds incident. I explained what happened, and how it will affect everyone moving forward. I want to take a few minutes to talk about this.

First, I want to make one thing very clear: This is a systemic, global problem, not a “Solar Winds” problem. It shows us that anyone is vulnerable, at any time, to an attack. Solar Winds just happened to be the victim in the “luck of the draw.” This could happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. This is still unfolding and a truly horrible incident, but it may also be one of the single biggest pivotal moments in global understanding of the problem at hand for small to mid-sized businesses.

If COVID moved technology forward three to five years, COVID plus the Solar Winds incident moved it ahead ten years. We have (hopefully) a renewed understanding that all businesses are at risk.

I have chosen “risk awareness” as my phrase of the year 2021. And I want to make one thing very clear: all the most advanced technological tools in the world will not prevent breaches if the users do not buy into a “risk awareness” state of mind. They are just tools.

Look at it this way: your car may be the safest car on the planet. It’s designed to withstand huge crash forces and protect the driver. This car could be a tank, but if the driver isn’t wearing a seatbelt, what does it matter? The strongest car in the world will not protect the driver who refuses to take responsibility for his or her own safety.

We must have buy-in and cooperation from businesses to make the security tools we supply work. It’s far more than just tools, it requires active participation from the clients we serve. Businesses can’t put aside their own responsibilities: MFA, identity access and management, and other cybersecurity-savvy behaviors play perhaps the biggest role in security than any cutting-edge tool.

Assume you’re ALREADY breached, and plan accordingly. Make the choices to limit your risk. Confidentially, integrity, availability (the CIA triad): this is the reason Iconic IT does what we do. Let’s have the tough conversations. Let’s dig deeper into the behavioral aspects of businesses and make a conscious choice to change them to minimize risk. Tools alone won’t do it: tools plus risk awareness and behavioral changes will.

On a personal note, December included wrapping up the year and taking a much-needed two-week vacation.

2020 was a year of growth, personally and professionally for me, and great change. I can’t think of any year before this where I have become a different person on a professional and on a human response front. I’ve become a trusted advisor in the MSP industry, and built my platform to drive the Iconic IT mission forward.

COVID has made this a transcendent year for me, as well as for Iconic IT. No one could have foreseen what 2020 would look like, from emotional needs to the resiliency we needed to succeed, and we came together and surpassed expectations. I have seen so much work from Icons to build the framework for our Iconic IT house, starting with the scaffolding and gradually building out from there. 2021 will be a great year for finishing the walls of our house.

Now that 2020 is over, pat yourself on the back for surviving. This has been one of the greatest years to touch family and friends in many unique ways, like having kids home from school, for instance. Beginning this new year should be about sitting down and understanding how to reduce risk. This year as a new year’s resolution, say: “This year I will find and decide what to do with risk, from cybersecurity to COVID.” Accept that bad guys will be in there all the time. No matter what tools we have in place, how much money we spend, we will still have risk. But we, at Iconic IT, will continue to help our clients identify and mitigate risk.

The greatest opportunities in history come from the normalization of chaos. 2020 was about trying to fight the waves of change but this year, rather than fighting waves in the ocean, we will learn to use them to our advantage.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed some extended breaks and time spent with loved ones, whether over Zoom or in person. We can kiss all 2020’s heartbreaks and hard lessons learned goodbye, but remember to look back at it from a lens of positivity.

We aren’t done recovering from the punches 2020 has thrown at us quite yet, but we should be looking forward with hope to 2021.

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