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Q&A: A-LIGN CEO Scott Price talks cybersecurity compliance and the local workforce

A-LIGN is a cybersecurity auditing company that helps small and medium businesses shore up their security practices and ensure that they meet the minimum security requirements for their industries. Pictured is CEO Scott Price. [Courtesy of A-LIGN]
Published Aug. 7

Cybersecurity can seem like a daunting topic for small- and medium-size business. Beyond the cost and technical expertise required to set up appropriate measures, ensuring that a company's data and security practices meet industry regulations can be a challenge.

That's where Tampa company A-Lign hopes to come in. A-Lign is a cybersecurity company that audits small- and medium-size businesses to help them identify any vulnerabilities in their system and ensure that they meet the minimum data security requirements for their particular industries. According to CEO Scott Price, A-Lign works with companies based on their long-term strategy to get them the different kinds of audits they need without much down time.

A-Lign has 270 employees nationwide, 100 of whom are located in Tampa Bay, and serves 2,200 clients. Most of its clients are California-based because of the state's large tech sector, and about two-thirds haven't undergone a security audit before, Price said.

The Tampa Bay Times recently talked with Price about the company. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

There are many cybersecurity compliance companies. What does A-Lign do differently?

The differential factor in us is our ability to hit all these regulations. There's really only three companies that can hit all the regulatory audits that we can do under one umbrella. Growing up in Tampa, it's a middle market compared to southern California, compared to Miami. We are able to offer our services in a way that allows our clients to become compliant (with industry regulations) in a cost-effective manner without much business interruption. The other reason why we hear that clients enjoy working with us is because we educate. We're focused on educating our clients on the standard and only doing the work that's required to meet the standard. And I think that because we serve this (small- and medium-size business) market where the money is really tight, that resonates really well with them and they appreciate that.

If most of your clients haven't gone through an audit before, how do they typically do?

We've learned to provide our clients a little self-awareness. There's a high likelihood that you might not do well right out of the gate, so let us do some type of diagnostic assessment to give you the take-home test.

At what stage are companies reaching out to A-Lign?

About 60 percent of our clients have taken some type of investment within 180 days (of using our services). They go through our audit or assessment to get ready for the equity investment or the audit allows them to service larger clients and be prepared as well. We're talking more and more to companies about getting ready prior to an investment. It will help with valuation.

Board members aren't always excited to hear that their company's product isn't as secure as it should be. How is your company received by your clients' boards?

As far as I look at it, there's two phases: security and privacy. From the security side of it, the board is asking the right questions and giving the right dollars and the right exposure to services that we offer that allow our companies to display their compliance with security obligations. Then you take the privacy side of it. These are getting some talks at the board level but not getting dollars yet. With the $5 billion fine for Facebook, I think they're really waiting for these fines to get large enough where they say, "Oh, the big guys are getting fined. They're probably going to start working their way down to me."

How do you see Florida and Tampa Bay in terms of cybersecurity?

It starts with the universities for us to hire from. The talent has to be here, and I think the focus that locally (University of South Florida) and (University of Tampa) have put on a cybersecurity market is huge. This year so far, we've hired 40 people from colleges and universities. The state of Florida comprises 24 out of the 40, (and) out of the 24, probably 20 are local. When you think of it on a statewide basis, certain universities are focusing on (penetration) testing, certain are focused on (digital) forensics. You can really build a practice based on what you're looking for in Florida. And when you want experienced talent to come out of the military, it allows us to pick up people with tremendous skillsets.

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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