STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: CYBERSECURITY 2049: BLADE RUNNER’S
GOT NOTHING ON THIS

Mischel Kwon, FOUNDER & CEO, MKACYBER, contributor

By September 29, 2017, 4:08 pm EDT

    Cybersecurity is on the tip of everyone’s tongue after recent attacks on Equifax, major retailers, and governments around the world. It’s projected that cyber crime damage will cost $6 trillion globally per year by 2021, and over $1 trillion will be spent annually to prevent it. Given the enormity of the problem and the size of the market, many companies are stepping forward with innovative solutions, and MKACyber is one of them.

    Based in the backyard of the U.S. Capitol, in Fairfax, VA, the company offers managed Security Operations Center (SOC) services and consulting. Think of SOCs like command centers for an organization’s cybersecurity operation – they allow staff to supervise sites and detect incoming threats. MKACyber’s core differentiator is that they manage SOCs like a business, not a tech unit, thereby integrating them into organizational infrastructures and allowing for better transparency and management. Creating a “shared” center also generates economies of scale and flexibility for their clients. Techweek’s Head of Media, Prab Kumar, sat down with MKACyber’s Founder & CEO, Mischel Kwon, to learn more.

    • Prab: What are three stats that show how important your company’s impact has been or signifies the growth your business/market has seen?

      Mischel: After closing our Series A funding MKACyber doubled in size within 90 days. We have a Customer Retention Rate of 98%. Over 35 years of executive level experience helped MKACyber create its SOC methodology.

    • Prab: That’s impressive! Tell us a little about your company today.

      Mischel: MKACyber does three things. We provide security operations consulting, managed SOC services, and we are working on a platform that will serve as the framework for building a SOC. The mission of MKACyber is simple, it’s that we make SOC work.

    • Prab: What is the hair on fire problem you address? How did you discover this problem and why did you tackle it?

      Mischel: Traditionally security operations centers (SOCs) are not managed like a hair on fire problem! The real problem is that the SOC has to be accountable for what it delivers to an organization and part of that is being able to articulate the successes and failures it has in a business-like manner to the executive level and board level members of an organization. SOCs need to be managed like a business, that’s why we developed the methodology that we did and why we continue to help organizations who struggle with the challenge of managing SOC like a business. Not truly managing the people, assets, and money in a business way, has ultimately led to the downfall of many SOCs.

    • Prab: What’s the size of the problem? How big is this industry?

      Mischel: By 2019, Gartner estimates that 50% of all security operations work in large and midsize enterprises will be conducted out of an owned or shared security operations center, up from 15% in 2015.

    • Prab: What are the important trends that will shake up this industry? What will the industry look like in 5 to 10 years?

      Mischel: There are a few trends that we think will have a positive impact on security operations over the near term, most notably that IT and security will become less siloed and operate together (again). In that vein, companies will begin to use their security architecture as a fabric to secure their infrastructure again. And most closely aligned to our specific piece of security, Security Operations Centers will be more data-driven, proving their ROI and value, and less driven by one “hero” at the top of the SOC pyramid.

    • Prab: How crowded is the space? What’s your competitive advantage behind your product or service that you believe makes it a winner?

      Mischel: The competitive advantage behind the work that MKACyber conducts is the relationship we build with our customers. We go above and beyond to understand not just their challenges and issues, but really what’s driving their entire business. By doing that it allows us to customize our recommendations in a way that makes them truly valuable to our customers. Technically competent with a methodology to SOC that does the right thing technically, not just check a box and plant a sensor. We truly care about our clients because at the end of the day we’re helping to protect our customers businesses.

    • Prab: Who are your customers and how do you make money?

      Mischel: Currently, MKACyber customers are neatly split into half federal government agencies and half commercial organizations. We have worked with companies in many different sectors from technology to large federal agencies to travel & leisure to smart home security. We offer customers customized engagements depending on their needs including security operations assessments and consulting to managed SOC services to a platform that can help them better manage their security operations.

    • Prab: How do you attract customers, and how well has it gone? How did you acquire your first customer?

      Mischel: Since MKACyber was founded our customers have sought us out. The management team has held some prominent positions in the past, where their reputations were built on the foundation of trust, technical competency and honesty and that has helped fuel demand for MKACyber services.

    • Prab: Tell us about raising capital – have you raised? What was the experience like? What did you learn?

      Mischel: We closed our Series A after 7 years. It was tough but money is always tough.

    • Prab: What would be your company’s mascot?

      Mischel: A guy in a hoodie, sitting in the cross legged yoga position, drinking an espresso.