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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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News & Articles

June 2, 2021 |

ASCII’s Alan Weinberger: MSPs are the Cure to Cybersecurity Ills

In a new book geared toward end users, ASCII Group CEO and Chairman Alan Weinberger outlines the growing cybersecurity threat and explains how MSPs are the right antidote for SMBs.

Alan Weinberger, founder, CEO, and chairman of The ASCII Group, talks with ChannelPro’s Michael Siggins, president and publisher of The ChannelPro Network, about his new book, The Doctor’s In: Treating America’s Greatest Cyber Security Threat. This is an edited and condensed version of that conversation.

ChannelPro: What inspired you to write a book about the growing risks and costs of cybersecurity?

Alan Weinberger: No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, it’s front and center of our civilization. The subtitle of the book is “”A Substantial Risk to Your Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”” So there’s a political aspect, the personal aspect, and obviously the economic aspect. So that’s the reason it’s front and center, and who’s the best one to be an antidote to all that? The MSPs.

ChannelPro: What is the most important thing that people need to understand about the state of cybersecurity today?

Weinberger: The title of the book is The Doctor’s In: Treating America’s Greatest Cyber Security Threat, because everybody understands what cancer is. You know what COVID-19 means today. Maybe 10 years ago, people didn’t even know what a plague was. So that’s the analogy between the medical world, which everybody knows, and the IT world, which people [the end users] don’t know. So this is the first book, I think ever, to explain to end users about what [MSPs] do.

ChannelPro: Cybercrime has become a huge business. Would you agree?

Weinberger: Absolutely. [There is risk of cyberattacks] at the highest levels from the president on down …to the one-person business, to our biggest infrastructures, our pipelines and everything else. And in the last decade, the IT solution provider role has really evolved.

ChannelPro: Can you tell us a little bit about that evolution?

Weinberger: We all know in the early 1980s, the PC revolution started when you had the Microsoft-Intel duopoly, so to speak. And then you could say the second revolution was the internet in the 90s and people started getting connected. And then maybe you say the third revolution is the cloud. And since everybody’s connected through the cloud and the internet, as we know, that’s not a secure way to be. And with that, the whole insecurity we’ve been talking about is arisen. So that’s sort of the genome.

That’s why the book is an analogy to the medical world. The equivalent [to a medical doctor] is your MSP to prevent cyberattacks, to [teach end users how to] have a good lifestyle and make sure you’re doing all the proactive things you should do. … So you can be protected if bad things happen, and prevent them from happening to begin with. … So there’s tremendous parallels between how the medical industry developed and how the IT service sector is developing.

ChannelPro: In keeping with the medical metaphor, the MSP is the frontline worker, right?

Weinberger: That’s what the government recognized for the first time this last year during COVID-19. The federal government and most state governments are considering the MSP a critical information or infrastructure worker, like the nurses and the doctors. That’s a very important change, which is going to help the channel tremendously. Directly related to that, too, is over the years, there’s always been many regulations and laws that apply to various industries, but just like in the last decade or so, we’ve seen a lot more of them apply to data handling, privacy, information, and things like that, which these days is all either on a company’s network or they’re storing in the cloud. If the government is looking to these essential workers to make sure certain things are done, the government is also trying to ensure that companies are managing their data safely and effectively to prevent data breaches… It’s amazing, the confluence of so many things going on right now in 2021 because of data. … All this is right front and center of part of the role of the MSP today.

ChannelPro: Who is the ideal reader for your book? Would nontechnical people understand the concepts and can it help them?

Weinberger: We’ve had a number of MSPs purchasing the book for their end-user customers because it explains to them who they are [and] what they do. It’s really for non-technical businesses, the 30 million SMBs in the United States.

ChannelPro: For the end user, what are some of the key takeaways?

Weinberger: You need the security and you need the expert and you need the MSP who does all that. [MSPs are] going to educate you, as a business adviser, on how you can make more profits, be more efficient, because the whole concept of IT is to make your business more profitable, more efficient. So that’s what the MSP can also help you with, not just keep your systems up. … Don’t go it alone, it’s just too risky. The risks are just growing. They’re not getting less.

ChannelPro: What makes channel communities even more important and valuable than before in the context of today’s extreme security dangers?

Weinberger: The way the MSPs learn is through peer-to-peer learning in a channel community. Whatever they learned in school, even if they got a Ph.D. in computer science 10 years ago, it’s irrelevant today. They have to learn what’s happening every day from their peers. The best way to do that is channel communities.

And the final thing is, since the MSPs are relatively small, but sometimes they deal with big clients, even multinationals or transnationals, they have to coordinate and communicate with their friends in different parts of the United States or other countries. And in a community, you can trust whomever you’re working with, that they’re not going to take your customer. They’re going to care for your customer.

Book image: Courtesy of Dorrance Publishing


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