Sunday, September 23, 2018
Business

Tampa Bay computer hackers hone their skills, urge the public to change their computer passwords

TAMPA — Bill Davison has always had a passion for his career. But outside of his field, few others understood what he did.

"Now I say I'm in cyber security and their faces light up with interest. They ask about networks and state attacks . . . I'm not used to that," he said.

It's now common to talk about private email servers and ransomware at the dinner table. The U.S. information security consulting industry is valued at about $9 billion and is expected to grow about 14 percent in the next decade, according to research firm IBISWorld. Several data security companies have moved to the Tampa Bay area in the last few years, where they can find qualified employees and potential clients through MacDill Air Force Base.

On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) hosted a hacker competition. About 50 data security experts and aficionados who typically work to guard against cyber breaches spent the day in a simulation that involved breaking into a fake Hillary Clinton private email server, accessing a bogus Donald Trump chatroom and about 20 other challenges.

"Like a locksmith, you have to know how to pick locks," said Joe Partlow, chief information security officer for the event's sponsor, Tampa-based ReliaQuest. These and similar events are held regularly throughout the country to encourage networking and professional growth in the cyber security industry. Partlow said the election-inspired theme was a fun twist on everyday challenges within the profession. The event organizers also played loud YouTube videos of Trump sniffling and Clinton laughing in order to distract the hackers from their tasks.

Most of the participants Saturday were data security professionals who spend their days protecting companies from hackers trying to steal their information. Some are white hat, or ethical hackers, who are hired to test company security systems by trying to break into their systems and report system weaknesses before a breach occurs.

One of those hackers is 38-year-old Dave Switzer. He said the biggest thing companies and people can do to protect their information is to keep their passwords secure. He recalled being able to break into one client's email just by figuring out that the client's password was his street address, which is public information. Rather than using a pet or school name, ZIP code or loved one's initials, which are easily figured out by looking up someone's Facebook page, he and other experts recommend using three random words strung together as a password.

"Anything on the Internet can be looked up," Switzer said.

It is important, he said, to change the password every 90 days and to not use the password for other accounts. That way if a hacker accesses your email, he or she can't also break into your bank account. Davison, 31, who works for a cloud services company in Tampa, recommends consumers turn to password encryption tools like LastPass to keep track of it all.

Beyond the election-inspired challenges, hackers during the event Saturday had to figure out how to find a hidden document disguised in the code of a picture, pinpoint the coordinates of a fake Wi-Fi account at a bar in downtown Tampa, and even access a fake bank account.

"It's creepy, but its cool," Switzer said.

Contact Alli Knothe at [email protected] Follow @KnotheA.

Comments
Nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, report says

Nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, report says

Nearly half of all cellphone calls next year will come from scammers, according to First Orion, a company that provides phone carriers and their customers caller ID and call blocking technology.The Arkansas-based firm projects an explosion of incomin...
Published: 09/23/18
Walmart is teaming with a Seminole Heights chef to promote locally grown mushrooms

Walmart is teaming with a Seminole Heights chef to promote locally grown mushrooms

TAMPA — It might seem like an unlikely match from the outside: A distinguished chef with a restaurant known for inventive plates using produce shoppers can find at… Walmart?Walmart, the country’s largest grocer, is known for having a core consumer wh...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Andrea Gebbia grew up in Carrollwood, and now she is bringing the family business to the neighborhood of her youth.In late fall, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils is slated to open a second location."I feel so blessed having the ability to grow my...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

TAMPA — As John Reisinger waited with family at Tampa General Hospital, grief settled in like a fog. So some of the details are hazy.But he remembers the moment when three women in white lab coats approached him.The day before, his niece, Jessica Rau...
Published: 09/21/18
Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

In early fall, Retro Fitness will open a 17,000 square foot fitness facility in Citrus Park, and it plans for more Tampa Bay area locations.Founded in 2005, Retro Fitness has 153 clubs throughout the United States and is the official fitness center o...
Published: 09/21/18
The guys who brought you Tampa’s Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they’ve already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

The guys who brought you Tampa’s Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they’ve already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

TAMPA — Coming soon from the developers who brought you the Armature Works: Heights Union, two high-end office buildings next door to the trendy food hall, event space and co-working complex overlooking the Hillsborough River.Developers said Friday t...
Published: 09/21/18
Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

RIVEVIEW – Amy Lin knows that her newest Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea store is in a location where previous businesses have not lasted.The short-lived Tap’s Brewhouse & Deli and even shorter-lived Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill tried to r...
Published: 09/21/18
Federal loans open to Pinellas businesses struggling against Red Tide

Federal loans open to Pinellas businesses struggling against Red Tide

The U.S. Small Business Administration has extended its disaster loan program to include Pinellas and Pasco county businesses affected by Red Tide.Already, the Pinellas County Economic Development Office was taking applications for bridge loans to he...
Published: 09/21/18
Watch: A southern white rhinoceros calf just a week after being born at ZooTampa

Watch: A southern white rhinoceros calf just a week after being born at ZooTampa

TAMPA — A southern white rhinoceros gave birth to a calf at ZooTampa on Sept. 12, marking the sixth successful birth of the species in the zoo's history. In a news release, ZooTampa said southern white rhinoceroses are a nearly threatened spec...
Published: 09/21/18
Baggers, cashiers soon can grow beards at Publix

Baggers, cashiers soon can grow beards at Publix

ORLANDO — The faces of baggers, cashiers and stockers at a Florida-based grocery chain may look slightly different in the near future.That's because Publix said Friday that it would start allowing workers to grow beards and other facial hair b...
Published: 09/21/18