Mark de Rijk: Explaining Cyber Security

The Atom Team

As business owners we can’t ignore the threat from cyber criminals. In this highly informative episode of the Atom CTO podcast, host Bhairav Patel interviews cybersecurity expert Mark de Rijk about the critical importance of cybersecurity for start-ups and small businesses. Mark shares practical advice drawing from over 20 years of experience consulting for organizations across Europe and the Americas.

The conversation kicks off with Mark recounting how he got his start in the field, doing penetration testing for banks at the ripe age of 13. He then explains some of the most common mistakes he sees startups making when it comes to security. Too often, companies treat security as an afterthought, failing to bake it into their products and processes from the very beginning. They may implement some point solutions but lack an overarching framework and strategy.

When Bhairav asks where to start, Mark recommends leveraging existing cybersecurity frameworks like NIST CSF and the Cloud Security Alliance’s matrix. While it may seem like a lot of overhead, he argues that a strong security posture is increasingly a cost of doing business, as enterprise customers conduct more stringent vendor audits and cyber insurance policies toughen their requirements.

For resource-strapped startups, Mark advocates a pragmatic, risk-based approach. He suggests bringing in a part-time/fractional security advisor who can help build a scalable program that grows with the organization. The advisor can assist with customer security assessments, provide a second opinion to the internal team, and serve as a “virtual CISO” until the company can hire a full-time expert.

The two then dive into the human side of cybersecurity and the challenges posed by the shift to remote work. Mark emphasizes the importance of fostering a culture of security, positively reinforcing good behaviors rather than punishing mistakes. He also shares tips for securing a remote workforce, such as providing company-managed devices or using virtual desktops.

While prevention is ideal, Mark argues that all companies need to prepare for the inevitable breach. He outlines strategies for detecting compromises, from simple Google alerts to logging and monitoring tools. Mark stresses the importance of having robust backups to mitigate the impact of ransomware attacks.

The episode closes with Mark’s parting advice that security doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. Sometimes small changes, like enabling multi-factor authentication and using strong passwords, can meaningfully reduce a company’s attack surface and encourage attackers to go after easier targets.

For any startups or small businesses looking to level up their security game, this episode is well worth a listen. Mark breaks down an often overwhelming topic into digestible and actionable insights. To learn more, you can find Mark on LinkedIn or through his firm, Cybersecurity Experts on Tap. 

We’ll be your virtual Chief Technology Officer
Whether faith in the existing team has been eroded, your current tech team needs a senior mentor, or you need a new tech vision for the company, Atom CTO is here to support you.