We talked to Mike Polatsek of CybeReady about security awareness training and COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mike Polatsek: Thanks for asking. We are all doing very well in all aspects – as a family, as individuals, as business owners, and as students. We are used to the online environment and assisting the older generation of the extended family to keep learning new habits.
We’re living close to the beach, so fresh air (and salty water) are part of our lifestyle and allows us to enjoy the beauty of nature even during quarantine (under the limitations, of course).
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded CybeReady.
Mike Polatsek: At a young age, Learning became my passion: as a basketball player, training was my second nature. Later I became a coach and had the opportunity to learn psychology and training methods. My military service led me to modern learning science, and it became my profession.
After developing many learning systems for various companies, mostly multi-national, I had the chance to join NISA (National Israeli Security Authority). There, I could merge cybersecurity with the learning science I am so passionate about. Years later, I gave birth to the idea of CybeReady (with my partner Omer Taran), and we officially founded the company in 2014.
My athletic training and understanding of what it takes to train effectively and specifically, becoming a marathon runner sharpened the basic training principles we’ve embedded in CybeReady’s technology.
How does CybeReady innovate?
Mike Polatsek: In a nutshell, we make security awareness training easy. Easy for security teams to manage and execute comprehensive programs and easy for employees to learn and engage with. Something that would allow everyone to embrace success.
We do that by bringing together learning expertise, data science, and automation. With that in mind, we have created the Autonomous Cyber Security Learning Platform, which allows organizations worldwide to run successful learning programs with ease.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mike Polatsek: These are challenging times for cybersecurity professionals everywhere. Security teams were asked to switch and equip the entire workforce to remote work almost overnight and have been challenged with the fact that employees work from home while distracted – which makes them more vulnerable to phishing attacks. Add to that the huge spike (over 300% percent) in phishing attacks since the beginning of the pandemic) and it’s obvious why InfoSec leaders stay up at night.
With that said, we are very proud to hear from our customers how CybeReady’s training platform has literally saved them. One of our customers (CISO of a global pharma company with over 50,000 employees) recently shared a webinar on how our training platform saved his team significant time and effort. He also shared an amazing anecdote: since the beginning of COVID, he’s been receiving ‘love letters’ from employees, thanking him for the effective training regimen he’s provided them with – something that’s never happened to him before. Employees are typically not fond of Phishing/awareness training and see it as a chore, but with our program, they appreciated being well-trained and ready for any scenario.
We’re honored to deliver that kind of value to our customers: CybeReady’s training platform was built to train employees wherever they are without burdening busy IT teams. Our continuous, short, and engaging training modules make it very easy for employees to learn and have proven to be effective “in the moment of truth.”
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mike Polatsek: Back in March, when it became clear we were facing a pandemic, we needed to make some difficult decisions. Many enterprises were going through rough times, and it didn’t seem right to chase them with a sales offer when things seemed so unstable. We’ve decided to offer our autonomous training platform to enterprises for free and build a quick complimentary resource center – The CISO Toolkit to help InfoSec leaders provide quick, COVID-focused training to employees will ease the pain of the remote work transition.
Both decisions paid off, and we learned that reaching out to our community and offering much-needed support goes a long way. CybeReady was created with a vision to help organizations increase human resilience to cyberattacks, and the pandemic reminded us how important it is to stick to our values. It added a sense of purpose to our team and strengthened the bond with our partner and stakeholders.
In terms of our own team, we’ve decided not to let any team member go and find other ways to cut off-budget. Our own people are the real assets of the company, and we’ve learned to stick together through good times and bad.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and CybeReady in the future?
Mike Polatsek: Due to our initial journey as a remote company, the first wave did not affect us at all. We paid attention to our team’s well-being, as employees, and as family members. We keep the informal conversations and continuously look for new ways to allow our team to contain the situation and its impact. On the other hand, our business results are transparent, and we expect a great future for the team and the company.
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