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Seth Belous on Cybersecurity, the Cloud and Other Hot Topics
22 April 2015

The IT Factor: Seth Belous on Cybersecurity, the Cloud and Other Hot Topics

Flexible Systems was featured in the February 27 – March 5, 2015 issue of Long Island Business News. Continue reading below for the full article or  download the story in PDF format.

Seth Belous, president of Flexible Systems in Hauppauge, is at the crossroads of change in the computer industry. The leader of the firm that employs 100 in information technology support and consulting talked about everything from the cloud to cybersecurity.

Where are you seeing the most demand for IT services?

People who were formerly doing their IT internally are looking to outsource that function. The technology evolved, so it makes sense for third parties to take care of the IT infrastructure. From a consulting point of view, a lot of people are starting to want to move off of legacy systems to more modern platforms that can better serve their business needs.

We’re reading about big breaches. Are smaller companies facing similar problems?

It’s kind of a myth that hackers only want to go after larger companies. They go for low-hanging fruit. Virus protection is a first line of defense. Other security measures help make sure networks are secure.

Are you hearing about lots of hacking?

We don’t hear about it, but we thwart attacks all the time. There are all kinds of malware and tools hackers use to gain entry to a network. We’re always preventing those things before they become a problem.

What’s the worst hacking you’ve seen directly?

One company had hundreds of thousands of dollars transferred out of their bank account. Somebody was loading software on a local PC. They didn’t update the patches. Someone from overseas got into the machine and made a bank transfer. Our involvement was after that happened. We had to fix whatever loophole was exploited. I don’t know the outcome of the negotiations with the bank, but I think the company lost the money.

What other types of hacking are you hearing about?

We’ve seen people get viruses where they have to pay a ransom to get access to that machine. They lock the machine, give you a phone number. To unlock the machine, you have to give them a credit card. This mostly happens to small businesses and home users.

Is the Internet opening the door to new problems?

The good news is you’re connected to the Internet. The bad news is the Internet is connected to you. You have a doorway connecting your business and someone else. Sometimes, something comes through that doorway that’s bad.

Did the weak economy hamper your growth?

No, because people looked at technology to help streamline their business. It helps them eliminate expenses.

How quickly are you growing?

Growth is a hard thing for us to measure. The typical price of hardware or software we sell is going down. We look at growth from the number of employees we have and the number of devices we’re managing. We’ve doubled our employees in the last two years and are continuing to hire.

What prices are going down and why?

The price of hardware always goes down. A machine that cost $5,000 five years ago is now under $1,000. Everything has gone down due to competition and advances in technology.

Have service prices gone down?

They have. We used to have to travel to the customer’s site to look at or repair anything. Now we can do most of that work remotely, which is a lot more cost effective.

How is the cloud affecting consulting and computers?

It gives people another option. Before the cloud, they had to maintain the infrastructure locally. That involved buying, maintaining, upgrading and supporting hardware. Cloud based applications give people access to high quality software that is constantly updated and maintained. They don’t have to lay out the capital, just rent that software.

What’s the future in terms of technology for business?

The thing everybody is talking about is the Internet of things, where you can control things like your lighting, door locks, sensors. That’s going to be a growth area.

Are electronic health records leading to a lot of business?

A lot of the healthcare stuff is mandated by the government. The actual physicians and people who have to use software haven’t been a big fan. We’ve worked with the bigger hospitals on the Island. It continues to be a long, drawn-out process.

What if any developments do you see with voice over Internet protocol?

Hosted VoIP is a cloud based phone system. In a traditional phone system, you have equipment on your premises. In a hosted environment, you just have the phone sets. Everything else is on the Internet. You can scale up to however many users without having to buy equipment. You don’t pay for phone calls, but you pay for your connection to the Internet.

Do people still forget to back up or is that rare?

It’s not as rare as you would think. A lot of people think they’re backing up, but they’re not really backing up what they need. If they did have a failure, their ability to restore what they backed up is nonexistent.