By Lenny Chesal, CRRD
Host.net Chief Evangelist
Last week, I attended the “Cyber Miami Conference” at Miami Dade College in The Idea Center. My keynote session topic was “South Florida as a Tech Gateway?” followed by an interview by David Coddington from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Co-chair of the South Florida TechGateway. The event partnered with the Israeli consulate and assisted Israeli tech companies to establish a presence and/or strengthen their current existence in the market. I am always willing and thrilled to pass along my knowledge of cybersecurity and, my personal favorite, squashing the myth that South Florida is not a tech hotbed.
The audience consisted educators, business leaders, technologists, and students (aged 18-32) from all over the world who seemed most interested in what I had to say. There was a woman from Ukraine interested in computers, a teenager from Belize who recently moved to the area and a gentleman who served 2 US Army tours and plans to use his experience to master cybersecurity. These young adults all share a passion for technology, and are typically unemployed or underemployed. The program, Generation IT, trains them with the technical skills to be CompTIA A+ and Network+ certified and works with technology companies like CareCloud and Microsoft.
Anyone who has ever met me knows that I am a storyteller, the good kind. So, I started with discussing all of the tech companies I passed by on my drive from Palm Beach to Miami and all of the opportunity that exists. The thought that there are no opportunities for high-tech businesses is bologna. According to Forbes Magazine, Florida is the #3 best state for future job growth and has the #4 largest GDP in the US.
As previously mentioned, contrary to popular belief – Florida is not just Disney and hotels. Florida, South Florida specifically, was built on technology organizations and universities. In fact, the first PC ever designed was built in Boca Raton, FL in 1981, which surprised much of the audience today. The first smartphone was developed in 1989 in South Florida and the Blackberry was created in Sunrise, FL. Florida is littered with technology history and I stressed its relevance and ongoing growth to the audience.
After making everyone feel all warm and fuzzy about the tech future in Florida, it was time for some doom and gloom – cybersecurity threats! (insert evil laugh j/k) Everyone has security threats; it’s not if, but when. I then chatted about some of the BIG security taboos, and realized that some of the attendees were even doing a few of the security no-no’s in the room as I spoke. Be very careful with how you use your USB; computer viruses can be transferred easily from one computer to another. Almost everyone in the room was on the area WiFi. If anyone can get in through public WiFi access, then, what’s the point of encryption?! The list goes on and on. However, in our highly connected world, cyber threats will continue to grow as cybercriminals get more creative in how they disrupt and steal data from our networks and devices.
All in all, it was a joy to speak with the audience and these eager students! I wish them nothing but the best and look forward to our paths crossing in the Florida tech arena.