Lowcountry has opportunity in cybersecurity

Panelists at Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Power Breakfast discuss cyberspace, and how the area presents opportunity for the Lowcountry. (Photo/Kim McManus
Panelists at Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Power Breakfast discuss cyberspace, and how the area presents opportunity for the Lowcountry. (Photo/Kim McManus)

By Matt Tomsic
mtomsic@scbiznews.com
Published April 25, 2013

Businesses and the government need to address every weak link in cyberspace, and as they do so, Charleston has an opportunity to grow its cybersecurity workforce and industry.

“Cyber is the Wild West without sheriffs,” said Noah Leask, CEO of Ishpi Information Technologies, during a Power Breakfast hosted by the Charleston Regional Business Journal. “This is the first time that your businesses are connected to a direct warfare domain.”

Leask shared the stage with four other cybersecurity officials, including James Ward, executive vice president for Scientific Research Corp.; Csilla Farkas, director of the Center for Information Assurance Engineering at the University of South Carolina; Rick Brisbin, special counsel for Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd; and Erick Fry of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

Brisbin said the country loses $250 billion in intellectual property to China each year.

James Ward, executive VP for Scientific Research Corp. (Photo/Kim McManus)

“We’ve got the assets here. This could change the entire face of Charleston with the opportunity we have in the cyberdomain.”

— James Ward, executive VP for Scientific Research Corp.

Ward said the Chinese have also stolen specs for the Air Force’s F22 from a defense partner and are now making a similar airplane at a fraction of the cost.

“That’s cyberwar,” Ward said.

Leask said the country and government need to change the way it does business in the cyberworld to protect data and passwords. Most cyberdefenses are static, Leask said, and static defense doesn’t always work.

“We’ve got to change to an active defense,” he said.

Farkas said attackers need one vulnerability to get into a network, and companies need to prepare and plan for attacks before they happen.

“We need to address every weak link,” Farkas said.

As companies and agencies address those needs, some of the workforce needed has come from outside the Lowcountry.

“We’re finding great talent, but we still have a high demand,” Fry said. “It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find that talent in the area. We’re finding more and more coming in from outside the Lowcountry.”

Cybersecurity challenges give Charleston an opportunity though, Ward said. The Lowcountry has the right ingredients, including engineers who are already working here plus an infrastructure supported by businesses and government agencies that focus on cyberspace.

“We’ve got the assets here,” Ward said. “This could change the entire face of Charleston with the opportunity we have in the cyberdomain.”

Reach Matt Tomsic at 843-849-3144.

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