Andrew McMakin, NXTsoft

Andrew McMakin, NXTsoft

Taking a byte out of cybercrime

This profile was originally published 12.20.19 in the Birmingham Business Journal 

With the city of New Orleans still struggling to recover from an attack launched over a month ago, it’s never hard to find news of a prominent cyber security breach. What’s a lot harder is finding stories that don’t include a significant ransomeware payment. Unless, of course, you know the pros at NXTsoft.

“We’ve had nearly two dozen companies call us,” says company president Andrew McMakin, “with largely the same message: ‘We came into work this morning, and all our computers were frozen.’”

Not a single company in that group ended-up paying a penny of ransomeware. “Bear in mind,” McMakin cautions, “there were instances where some data was lost. But even those companies still came-out far ahead.”

NXTsoft (which officially opened its doors October, 2017) is the brainchild of its Chairman and CEO, serial entrepreneur David Brasfield. “Sometime in early 2017, David saw a significant opportunity in cyber security — starting with improving people’s cyber IQ. Eighty percent of all data breaches come from employees unwittingly allowing bad actors into computer networks, so a big part of our service is training.” (Lesson one: Do Not Open The Cat Video.)

Just four months ago, NXTsoft launched a SAAS product called Virtual CISO (Chief Information Security Officer), which is already in use among a tremendous range of companies — from small businesses to enterprise-level organizations and governmental entities.

And why would an organization want a virtual CISO? “The average salary for someone in that position is $167,000. We can provide the same level of security for a fraction of the price. We even have companies with full-time CISOs using our product, because the dashboard gives them live oversight of their cyber security status at any given time. And because the product is that strong.”

It goes without saying that great products are critical, but NXTsoft likely owes some of its fast growth to the attention generated by company spokesman Frank Abagnale — the legendary con-man whom Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed in Catch Me If You Can, and who now serves as a consultant for a Who’s Who of Fortune 500 clients. “One of our executives, Steve Hines, met Frank at a cyber security conference,” says McMakin, explaining the relationship. “They hit it off, and, well, one thing led to another.”

Given Brasfield’s longtime success developing products for banks and other financial-service institutions, it’s no surprise they’d have a solid grasp on cyber security. But NXTsoft is also about optimizing data through connectivity and data analytics. A typical benefit of those additional solutions: A bank using NXTsoft’s software can analyze customer accounts to calculate their relative values and risks — enabling the organization to tailor marketing to attract more valuable customers.

For those capabilities, NXTsoft went shopping. “In the past two years, we’ve acquired eight businesses. The core cyber security technology we developed in-house. The additional data and apps, we bought — then improved.” Which begs the question: How did NXTsoft find all those companies in such a short time? “That’s the magic of David Brasfield and his Rolodex. There are a lot of people with whom he has long-term relationships. And a lot of people who want to do business with him.”

(Special thanks to Don Holifield for the photo image — taken from a 2019 video he produced for the Birmingham Venture Club).


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