Skip to content

40 Stories: Joel Caskey of NET Xperts

Since 2002, NET Xperts has helped Pittsburgh-area businesses manage their computer and network services. The company was recently named a Top Global Managed Services Providers in the 2023 Channel Futures MSP 501 Rankings —their 11th year being recognized!

The Tech Council’s Sheena Carroll recently spoke with Joel Caskey, Cybersecurity Manager and Partner at NET Xperts, about his experience at the company and the trends he observes in cybersecurity:

SC: You’ve been working at NET Xperts for 17 years!

Joel Caskey, NET XpertsCASKEY: Yes, it’s been a wild ride and a lot of fun to see the company grow. When I first started, we had 13 employees – I was lucky number 13. We now have about 35. As we’ve grown, we’ve watched technology evolve and our customers grow with us.

SC: NET Xperts recently celebrated 20 years in business. I’m sure that you’ve experienced a great amount of change in tech during that time!

CASKEY: We mostly service small to medium-sized businesses, and we’ve seen our customers go from their own on-premises solutions–like a server sitting in their office–to cloud solutions. If you’re a 10-user organization, you don’t necessarily need to pay to have an in-office server. Cloud solutions have grown much better over the last 15 to 20 years, saving businesses from those hardware costs. So yeah, it’s evolved from that tech standpoint.

My focus is more on the cybersecurity side of things, so my role involves a lot of education. It also involves seeing the different things happening in the world and trying to help our customers understand them and not fall victim to them. That’s evolved even more in just the last five years.

SC: I remember the days of the prince scam emails. But now hackers are getting much more sophisticated, utilizing AI and creating more realistic content. What trends have you noticed?

CASKEY: Let me give you a little bit of the evolution of cybersecurity in the small and medium-sized business world. Fifteen years ago, many people would have thought they were fighting against some hacker in a dark room wearing a hoodie who was trying to hack through their firewalls or system controls. Now what we’re seeing are the bad actors directly attacking the end users. There’s a lot more phishing, smishing, and vishing.  I think this is coming from the AI getting better at pulling all a company’s information and basically building a dossier on the employees. Information is being scraped from compromised social media accounts and websites and even being sold on the dark web. Attackers are using that information to build more intelligent scams. They’re now going after payroll managers, CEOs, and CFOs. They go after their employees by pretending that they are the CEO or CFO.

Here’s a tip: if anybody ever tells you to go out and buy Google Play gift cards for your employees, it’s probably a scam.

SC: I’ve definitely received some shady texts with untrustworthy links.

CASKEY: It's interesting in the text messaging world, because there's not the same type of filtering that you would see in email. So, you're seeing attackers use that as more of a threat vector, because as of right now, you can't filter it. [Companies] are starting to look into that—for example, Google has a spam filter built into their messaging platform that is getting better. You're going to see others follow suit and eventually it might hit the actual telecom carriers. So much is changing so rapidly right now, and I only see it progressing more.

SC: In this 40 Stories series, we’re all about looking ahead. What do predict for your industry in the coming decades?

CASKEY: From a cybersecurity focus, I think we’re going to see a lot more incorporation of AI. You’re going to see attacks getting better. You must use AI with caution. It can be a great thing, but you also must watch the information that you feed it. This is especially important with your employees – if they’re feeding confidential information into AI, then what’s happening with that information? I think that the next 20-40 years are going to be rather interesting in terms of cybersecurity.

SC: Why did you join the Pittsburgh Technology Council?

CASKEY: We’ve been a part of the Tech Council for as long as I can remember. We want to see the tech industry in general continue to thrive and grow in Pittsburgh, and for the city to become a tech epicenter. We also want to continue to help our customers with their technology solutions and to grow and thrive together.

Connect With NET Xperts

40 Stories is a special series celebrating the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 40th anniversary through the diverse stories of our members, old and new. It is sponsored with the generous support of DQE, UPMC Health Plan and Faros Properties!