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Petrie van Zyl, Dial a Nerd: “in many cases, security remains a grudge purchase, especially if you haven’t been a victim of cybercrime”

By 4th July 2022No Comments

The world is evolving faster than ever. It’s mind-blowing to see such transformation in IT, as it used to be significantly more complex and barely understood by most.


It is still complex, sometimes even more than before. However, today’s digital world is incredibly simplified. Finding solutions, even when it seems extremely confusing, becomes a no-brainer with the help of experts. And all that help is just one click away.

For this reason, our team contacted Petrie van Zyl, Managing Executive of Dial a Nerd – company that offers remote monitoring and SLA providing unlimited remote and telephonic support.

How did Dial a Nerd originate? What was the journey like since your start in 1998?

I know it sounds cliché, but a typical IT origin story. Dial a Nerd was founded by Colin Thornton in a garage. We started delivering IT support to a consumer market that had very little to no comprehension of technology.

From there we gradually expanded into the SME market. Today our core focus is delivering services to the SME sector, but we still have a very loyal and growing consumer client base.

We have been very fortunate to be part of and witness the information technology revolution first-hand over the years. It’s incredible to look back at how complicated IT used to be, compared to today where everything is much more simplified.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?

Our core focus is delivering turn-key IT solutions for the SME market. We have positioned ourselves as our client’s technology partner, advising and navigating our clients through sometimes very confusing solutions.

We cover anything from day-to-day support to security, productivity through Microsoft 365 and connectivity.

When it comes to customizing cybersecurity systems, is this something businesses of all sizes should invest in or is it only relevant for large enterprises?

In the connected world, we operate today, security is very relevant to any business, regardless of the size of the organisation. We often see the SME market being targeted as low-hanging fruit, compared to larger organizations that have invested in security.

Cybercrime is a numbers game, and targeting smaller enterprises with minimal security often yields the best results for organized cybercrime syndicates. 

What is it like providing IT services in light of the current global events? Are there any new challenges you have to adapt to?

The “work from home” scenario is a concept we had to adapt to, especially around security. Organizations moved their workforce out of controlled and secured environments into home environments which inherently do not have the same level of security that the traditional office. 

In your opinion, what are the most common misconceptions surrounding IT support? 

People still view IT support as a reactive service. Reactive support unfortunately often causes unplanned downtime and lost productivity. We have changed our support model to a proactive approach to avoid these consequences.

Monitoring our client’s environments and proactively resolving potential issues have allowed our clients to operate in more stable environments, resulting in less downtime and higher productivity.

Although there are more security solutions and providers available than ever before, certain companies and individuals still hesitate to upgrade their security. Why do you think that is the case?

Unfortunately, in many cases, security remains a grudge purchase, especially if you haven’t been a victim of cybercrime. The reality though is that it is not a matter of whether you will be a victim, but rather when you will be a victim.

The cybercrime industry has an extremely aggressive business model, driven by revenue and profits. As such, these syndicates are always evolving their tactics. For this reason, it is crucial to stay up to date with the latest security advancements.  

What are some of the worst cybersecurity practices that can make companies extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks?

Ransomware and Email spoofing are very prevalent in the SME sector. Email communications posing as Executives instructing fraudulent payments is common and is costing small businesses millions every day.

Ransomware goes through phases and combined with the new POPIA legislation could be detrimental to even the most established business.

What cybersecurity solutions do you see becoming an inseparable part of remote work and online learning?

We always suggest a layered security approach. Email hygiene, secure VPNs linked to a Next-Gen firewall, and endpoint device protection. The aim is to reduce your risk exposure, no matter which environment you are operating from. 

What does the future hold for Dial a Nerd?

The key to Dial a Nerd’s success is that we have always been able to adapt and evolve with technology and market trends. We will continue doing so in building our traditional business model, but we are also very excited to be partnering with bigger Telecommunication companies to deliver service to both their Consumer and SME customers.

We are also continuing to expand our national footprint through our Dial a Nerd Certified partner program, extending our onsite presence throughout most of South Africa.

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