Scott Beck has always understood the power of communication. Whether across airwaves or network servers, Beck knows that to build relationships with clients, you have to speak their language. As a best-selling author, speaker and cyber security expert, Beck adapts to a continuously evolving industry, keeping his team at BeckTek and their clients on the cutting edge of cyber security.
Despite his father’s encouragement to be part of the “wave of the future,” Beck did not find computers interesting in his youth. “I remember going to a couple of courses and summer computer camps, and it was just a lot of work. Of course, most of it was based around programming, and that just didn’t speak to me,” recalls Beck. “It’s weird to look back and think the journey really began with my mother banging on my bedroom door during my senior year of high school, and she was like, ‘Scott, what are you going to do with your life? All you do is sit in your bedroom, listen to music and smoke cigarettes.’ I was like, huh, where can I go listen to music and smoke cigarettes and get paid? And that’s how my career in radio started.”
The station Beck worked at became the first in Atlantic Canada to implement a “Live Assist” computer system that ended up replacing the work of on-air DJs. Beck had to adapt quickly or risk losing his job, so he began to learn about the new computer system. “I started self-teaching and absorbing,” he says. “I was the junior guy. The computer systems back in the early nineties were not that complex, so they used to have to take the computer offline to optimize it, which usually happened on my shift. I was able to see the writing on the wall for DJs and started to learn as much as possible about the computers to help with job security. I had a young family to support, after all.”
Beck left radio and went to work at the Canadian Department of Justice, where he was exposed to servers and networks. It was a new kind of communication, and this inspired Beck. “I got exposed to the security stuff and how things talked together on the network and how you had to make sure people couldn’t access things. It seemed intriguing, very logical, very reasonable,” says Beck. “That’s what called to me. Radio forced me to start looking at computers differently. When I got exposed to that networking and security side, I was like, yeah, I could do this for a living.”
But Beck did not want to rely on experience alone, so he sought out an education in IT that would help him stand out. He graduated in the top seven from a two-year program, in just one year earning certifications such as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Cisco Certified Network Associate, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA A+.
Beck spent a few years working as a subcontractor for companies like IBM and Dell. During this time, he listened to the concerns of business-owner friends and realized there was a very real need in the market to help uncomplicate IT for business owners. They needed IT firms to help grow business, achieve peace of mind that their company and client data were protected, deliver support using plain language instead of geek-speak and eliminate confusing contracts. To address these needs, Beck created BeckTek, an industry-certified technology management firm in New Brunswick, Canada, committed to award-winning, client-focused technology support.
Communication-Oriented Customer Service
Seventeen years after BeckTek launched, the company supports more than 68 clients, mainly in Atlantic Canada, but has clients across North America. Beck’s experience in media fine-tuned his ability to communicate and build trust with clients, some of whom have been around for all seventeen years, far beyond the industry average of three to five years.
“When I transitioned to being a business owner myself, I strived to get in tune with clients and what they actually want. I got really good at breaking down complex technology situations and helping guide clients to solutions that work best for them and their companies,” says Beck. “I believe I’ve got a knack for using analogies to tell the story. I don’t like talking bits and bytes because most clients don’t want or care to understand it. But we can explain things so they can understand their risks, how technology impacts their business, and keep them appraised so they can make informed decisions. I think that’s what really built that relationship and why we have such long-term relationships with clients – overcommunication and owning any problems that crop up.”
Taking Out The Guesswork And Managing Risk
For Beck, communication isn’t just about clever analogies, it’s also about staying up-to-date on industry trends to make sure clients have relevant information to make informed decisions.
Beck knows firsthand how being aware of industry trends can benefit clients. “About seven or eight years ago, one of my peers’ clients got hit with the very first version of ransomware, and we could see that was kind of a game-changer with how the bad guys were attacking,” recalls Beck. “I started pivoting BeckTek from being traditional outsourced IT support, what’s called a managed services provider (MSP), and started focusing more on the security side of things. It was pretty easy to see where the trend was going to go with how the bad guys were operating. I started to focus BeckTek toward becoming the client’s security partner, and now we’re known for cyber security locally and internationally.”
Beck remembers when cyber security went from preventing attacks by “cyberpunks” in their parents’ basement to dealing with knowledgeable cybercriminals and organized crime rings costing companies millions and changing the technology industry. With access to black market training and software, these criminals no longer have to build viruses and malware – they can be rented. The criminals are talking to each other online, networking and building large-scale operations, which Beck and his peers jokingly refer to as “Crime University.” And these criminals rarely get caught.
In a fast-paced industry where addressing criminal activity with confidence can be intimidating, some IT businesses are afraid to bring up topics of cyber security with their clients. “Most small businesses have no idea what they are up against, and that’s where BeckTek comes in. I try to preach within my own industry. I help coach and I’ve done appearances at sessions talking to other IT guys that it’s not just about fixing computers anymore,” says Beck. “Businesses are looking to us to try and fill in the gap.”
Beck realized that the information gap in cyber security had the potential to cause irrevocable damage to businesses. Some IT professionals did not believe it was worth bringing up to clients, or business owners simply didn’t know the risk. “I’ve had to sit on the other side of the table and tell a business owner that everything he’s worked for for years is in jeopardy because he’s been hit by something very bad, all his files have been taken. He hadn’t invested in backups; he hadn’t taken care of any of the security. That’s just a devastating thing,” says Beck. “So, after having had that kind of conversation a couple of times, I realized education is so important. I’m trying to get the education out so people have that ‘aha!’ moment.”
On his mission to help others understand the changing landscape of cyber security and make informed decisions, Beck has come full circle, stepping back into media. He is a two-time international best-selling author, co-star of the Amazon documentary Cyber Crime, an award-winning speaker and a guest expert with TV appearances on NBC, ABC, Fox, the CW, CTV and Global. “I think education was always part of the DNA of BeckTek and for my team, because we’re constantly learning and staying up on trends so we can see what’s happening and advise clients and shift with it,” says Beck. “The book and the TV appearances and the movie – they’ve been very beneficial in building trust and awareness. Instead of hearing someone yelling that the sky is falling, I believe what they’re seeing is this guy has been in the movie, he’s written the book, he’s done all this other stuff…maybe he and his team are the folks I trust and can actually get us through this.”
Prevent, Detect And Respond
IT as an industry is evolving rapidly; as more devices come online, there are bigger risks and an increased need to educate and adjust to a changing world. This is why you will find Scott Beck and his team on the cutting edge of cyber security, preparing to help their clients and businesses adapt. Beck’s experience has taught him that it is not about if an attack will happen, but when. “How do we prevent criminals, how do we detect it when something goes wrong and do you have the plans in place to respond when it does? The time to run a fire drill isn’t during a fire. That’s why I keep preaching these three things,” says Beck. “You need to prevent, detect and respond.”