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May 21, 2018

Technology Leadership Council Talks Phishing, Cyber Threats

Cybersecurity and FinTech are major industries within metro Atlanta’s ecosystem, which acts as an important hub in both sectors. Nationally, Georgia is ranked third in both cybersecurity and financial technologies, making the region an attractive location for expansion opportunities. With the influx of cybersecurity and FinTech firms, metro Atlanta has also become a thought leadership hub in dealing with cyber threats. As technological expansion continues to grow, it is essential for these clusters to deal with new opportunities and threats.

Chaired by Mike Cote, president and CEO of Secureworks, and led by the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s (MAC) Senior Director of Technology Ecosystem Expansion Grant Wainscott, MAC’s second quarter Technology Leadership Council discussed phishing, information security and ways to improve corporate and personal cybersecurity in an ethical and responsible manner.

Cyberattacks affect people more quickly and with more severity than ever before. As technological advancement expands, new opportunities for threats arise – with the potential for profound ethical issues. Justin Daniels, business advisor and cybersecurity public speaker of Baker Donelson, warned that cybersecurity needs to become a part of our DNA as a society. In order to successfully protect ourselves and organizations, Quincy Acklen, CEO of Gyomo Inc., explained the importance of utilizing two-factor authentication, using unique passwords, testing backups and typing out links rather than clicking carelessly. Acklen also described the importance of using security resources, such as and The average cybersecurity attack costs $7.3 million, creating an urgency for strong cybersecurity practices.

As the council meeting transitioned into a cybersecurity and information securities fireside chat, there was a recurring theme of preparation. Wainscott spoke with David Nolan, director of information securities with Aaron’s, about cybersecurity trends. Phishing scams have proliferated in recent years, not only growing in number but becoming hyper-targeted. Additionally, an increase in ransomware attacks have threatened organizations on a global scale. The commoditization of these ransomware technologies has streamlined attacks by bad actors, making ransomware a cheap option for hackers that causes chaos for organizations. Nolan outlined the importance of creating cyberattack response plans, purchasing cyber insurance policies on an organizational level, as well as segmenting servers and testing backups. Wainscott and Nolan explained the need for pervasive cybersecurity practices throughout the organization and not only with company CSOs.

Following the fireside chat, Dylan Stone-Miller, director of program with honorCode, spoke about his company’s mission to bring computer science classes to Atlanta’s public schools. Since 95 percent of Atlanta public schools do not have computer science classes, honorCode has developed programs for students and teachers on a K-12 scale, impacting 3,000 students over two years. Jeff Schmidt, president and CEO of Authomate, explained the importance of making strong security easy to use. His company focuses on shifting the burden from memory to devices, since 54 percent of security issues are the result of human error. Finally, Dr. Jim Crupi, founder and president of Strategic Leadership Solutions, shared information about a 10-day high school cyber camp in Atlanta, fully-funded by the U.S. National Security Agency.

Over the past quarter, the metro Atlanta region landed 26 companies in the FinTech or cybersecurity industries. Of those, 11 are expansion and retention programs while 15 are new companies to the area.

The 2018 Technology Leadership Council will return on August 22 and October 25. Additional participation opportunities for the year include MomoCon from May 24-27, Cyber Week from October 8-12, P20 Summit from October 9-11, and TechStars Demo Day on October 15. If you have any questions on how your organization can engage with MAC, please reach out to Jack Murphy.

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