Cybersecurity and Its Growing Role: Washington D.C. Experts Dive in

Earlier this year, local tech enthusiasts in the Washington DC area congregated at 1776’s downtown location for Tech in Motion’s panel discussion: Cybersecurity And Its Growing Role. The featured panelists included Anup Ghosh (Invincea), Tom Parker (FusionX), Jason Rivera (Deloitte) and Josh Marpet (BiJoTi), with moderation by Bob Stratton, General Partner of MACH37, a Northern Virginia based cyber accelerator.

Before the panel took the stage, sponsor companies Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates thanked everyone for coming and offered to help with any job or talent search. Looking for a new role? Check out open tech positions here.

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The discussion kicked off with a look at the cybersecurity industry as a whole. As with any industry, there are notable pros and cons. Anup took the lead by stating that “security problems are not new,” which rings true as we continue to see an ever increasing amount of cybersecurity-related headlines in the media. The most common of these relate to cybercrime and attacks on high profile companies.

“In the last decade, we’ve seen the professionalization of the cyber adversary,” Tom addressed this growing trend in the marketplace.

Jason reinforced this with his point that “Cybercrime is the most profitable illicit business on earth; it is a trillion dollar business.”

This growing trend of cybercrime makes for an increasingly profitable industry as more companies look to reinforce their security measures. However, Anup noted that cybersecurity companies aren’t looking to reverse this trend, “We’re doing a really good job of making a lot of money in the cybersecurity industry but not fixing a whole lot.”

The industry places a larger emphasis on attack detection versus prevention when in fact the opposite is ultimately what is needed to reverse the progression.

In combatting the rapidly increasing presence of cybercrime, the panelists discussed the importance of educating the masses in general best practices. Josh explained, “To bridge the gap between the knowledge and deployment of cybersecurity practices, you must educate the people.”

Anup further addressed the responsibility gap when it comes to protecting company data: “Can’t blame users for bad things happening on sites; [companies] need to give them the right equipment to do their job.”

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Looking to attend events on topics like cybersecurity? Check out our event calendar for the next tech talk near you.

Heading into 2015, the cybersecurity industry was at the forefront of national headlines after the data breaches on major corporations such as Target, Sony, and Anthem. As the panelists attested, large corporations are now taking extra precautions to ensure that their network is safe from attackers.

Josh prefaced this topic with a shocking statistic: “In the past year, there have been more records breached than the number of American citizens.”

So where do large companies fall short? “Companies that tend to fail and are breached are those that cannot conceive of themselves being a target,” Jason answered. “The ones that succeed are the ones that are proactive and acknowledge the internet is a part of their business.”

The panelists continued to discuss where the cybersecurity industry fits into the current breach landscape and how it can proactively respond to breaches. In Anup’s opinion, “We should focus on prioritizing detection, that’s how we’re going to change this breaching trend.” Jason added, “Cybersecurity is reactive– what if we were more proactive and made breaches more challenging as well as less profitable?” The speakers all agreed that these breaches have essentially become expected among most in the security industry.

Tom firmly stated, “Unfortunately, it’s going to take more breaches and larger corporations going out of business to make others understand this threat can happen to anyone.” In the meantime, he said, “Businesses should practice ‘good hygiene’ ” and spend money wisely on the appropriate preventative security measures for their network. This includes having your network checked regularly, as well as operating under the assumption that “there are already hackers in it,” according to Josh.

The discussion then transitioned into the panelists exploring both sides of the debate on encryption. Anup started off saying, “With encryption, you have to have reasonable expectations of what it can and cannot do.”

Our panelists all agreed that the value of encrypting company files lies in increased difficulty for hackers looking to access that data. However, it’s important to be realistic in ones expectations; encryption is not the only defense necessary when facing hackers.

When the topic of surveillance emerged later in the discussion, Anup stated that “Encryption leads into a debate about a larger issue of surveillance.” It seems that encryption is almost a double-edged sword: able to bring increased security to one’s network, but not without the risk of increased surveillance.

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To bring the evening to a close, Bob opened the floor to the audience for questions. The 30-minute session for questions ranged from tips on the best way for customers to protect themselves against corporate breaches to the panelists’ ideas on how to bridge the knowledge gap within the cybersecurity industry. The questions and audience engagement really drove home the concept that cybersecurity is definitely applicable to everyone.

If you’d like to connect with meetups like this, join the Tech in Motion DC Meetup group for the latest event announcements.

Year in Review Panel Discussion: Net Neutrality, Cyber Security and IoT

On Tuesday, January 27th, tech enthusiasts around the Washington metropolitan area braved the snowy weather to gather at 1776’s downtown location for Tech in Motion’s ‘A Year in Review’ panel discussion. Mike Chan, co-founder of local startup ribl and organizer of Startup Weekend DC, moderated the discussion. Panelists included Rob Pegoraro (Yahoo Tech), David Young (VP of Public Policy, Verizon), Lauren Maffeo (Aha! Labs), Patrick Merfert (9Lenses), and Mike Leurdjik (Core Capital).

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Upon arriving, attendees were encouraged to enjoy some light networking before taking their seats to listen to the discussion on the biggest tech headlines of the past year as well as predictions for the upcoming year. Before the panel took to the stage to discuss the past year’s tech headlines, a few words were spoken by representatives from event sponsor companies Jobspring PartnersWorkbridge Associates, and Verizon FiOS.

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Mike Chan launched the discussion by making introductions down the line, and launched the conversation by asking each panelist to reflect on one big technology-related headline of the past year. With the annual State of the Net address having occurred earlier that day at the Newseum, Rob and David kicked things off seamlessly with a passionate dialogue about Net Neutrality, with each representing opposite sides and debating the pros and cons of net neutrality, title II, and Section 706. David finished the discussion by summarizing his stance supporting net neutrality rules, but asserted that implementation of title II would be a mistake.

Lauren then steered the conversation towards Fintech, a movement focused on disrupting the banking industry which gained tremendous momentum this past year. As an example, she cited the hugely popular Transferwise which has recently announced a 58M round of funding to expand their offerings internationally.

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Almost inevitably, the dialogue turned towards the security breaches of the past year. Corporations such as Home Depot and Target fell prey to credit card hacks, the now infamous Sony hack revealed multitudes of confidential data, and the Central Command Twitter account (@centcom) was hacked while President Obama was giving a speech on the importance of cyber security–all of which served to highlight the growing importance of this industry.

“A scary trend that we have been seeing and will continue to see is data breaches. The size, volume, and sophistication of these attacks are increasing,” Patrick stated.

He spoke at length about cyber security and the seriousness of the problems that it’s presented. Despite these problems, Patrick also highlighted an upside to the issue.

“The silver lining about this is that it’s a great opportunity for security and defense startups,” Patrick noted. “[There is] a ton of opportunity for new entrants and agile startups to tackle these specific types of attacks.”

In a change of pace, Mike Leurdijk observed that the rate of change in the industry has continued to trend upwards over time. Resources are becoming more easily accessible and there is an increase in the amount of disruptors and collaboration occurring in the space.

“This [the rate of change] is something that’s increased from the past few years and it will continue to improve,” Mike stated. “It’s cheap, affordable to become an entrepreneur, there’s a huge amount of opportunity in the enterprise space, you see corporate VCs going further…it’s an exciting time to be here.

Predictions for trends and headlines to look for in 2015 covered a wide breadth of the sector in the conversation. Topics included technology in the enterprise space moving to the consumer level, wearables continuing to tailor their offerings to fulfill the market need for devices that specifically address and target consumer needs, a value shift in startup accelerators and the democratization of angel investing.

Lauren predicted that cyber security and the broader genre of privacy will only increase in importance and relevancy. A recent study by Cisco estimated that 25 billion devices will be connected to the Internet and make up the Internet of Things in 2015.

“Global governments will not able to keep up with growing technology demands, therefore it will be up to startups and corporations to promote privacy and trust,” Lauren predicted.

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A topic that was perhaps the most popular in its prediction of continuing to trend from 2014 in to 2015 was the theme of diversity in technology. Mike Chan started things off by discussing how the lack of diversity seen is the black eye of the industry. When speaking on the diversity reports that companies are feeling pressured to release, he asked if these reports were part of a PR stunt.

Rob was quick to point out that of the companies that have actually released reports; their findings don’t necessarily cast them in the best light. An example cited was Twitter’s diversity report that resulted in backlash for not having a single female on their board. The debate then morphed into how to bring about change and increase diversity.

“The idea is to let this diversity happen more organically,” Lauren weighed in. “Once you start talking about setting quotas or things of that nature, that’s when things start to get tricky.”

Mike Leurdijk kept things in perspective when discussing the amount of time that it will take to make that change happen.

“Change needs to start at the bottom. It’s a cultural change that needs to happen. It will take a long time, but keep encouraging that change,” he asserted.

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After the discussion came to a close, there was a brief Q&A section. The audience, as ever, was filled with engaged and inquiring individuals who stayed long after the panel came to an official close to network with one another and speak with the panelists before the space, 1776, closed for the night.

1776 is a prominent startup incubator located in the heart of Washington. The startup incubator is a household name in the DC area, known for everything ranging from their Challenge Cup to visits by prominent figure includingg the British Prime Minister and President Obama. The space, which boasts an ultra-modern and comfortable interior, held the 120+ event attendees easily.

Interested in learning more about the DC chapter of Tech in Motion events? Check out the event page and join this rapidly growing membership base. The next Tech in Motion DC event will be a Demos & Drinks on February 24th at the WeWork WonderBread Factory.

Happy Hour & Tech Talk: Email Privacy, Leaked Photos Take the Stage

Remember, remember the fifth of November, you would if you were a Tech in Motion member…Attendees gathered outside the glass doors of the new Yahoo! building in downtown San Francisco, waiting for doors to open for the “Happy Hour & Tech Talk” event. Featured speakers included Brad Kulick, the Director of Privacy Policy at Yahoo; Zouhair Belkoura, founder and CEO of KeepSafe; John Roberts, Platform Lead at CloudFlare and Dos Dosanjh, Head of Solutions at CipherCloud.

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Upon arrival, members were greeted by the Tech in Motion sign in crew. After checking in they made their way up the elevator and into Flickr’s exclusive event space for the networking portion of the night.

The room began buzzing with action as members mingled and grabbed name tags. Long wood tables were lined with over 30 Patxi’s pizzas and salads for the taking, as well as a full bar of microbrews and wines. Members were well fed thanks to Flickr’s generous donation of food. People bonded over the delicious flavors of deep dish pizzas and shared excitement of having vegan and gluten free options. For dessert, special Tech in Motion cookies were donated by Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates!

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As members made their way around the space they were greeted by sponsorship booths. These included career booths by Jobspring and Workbridge as well as a booth from Flickr, the headline sponsor for the evening. Members grabbed Flickr swag and learned all about what the company was working on in their new office.

Learn more about becoming a Tech in Motion sponsor.

By 7:15 p.m., guests around the room settled in for a tech talk on privacy and sharing in the age of the Internet. Perri Blake Gorman took the stage as the moderator and began the discussion off on the right foot. She introduced the panelists for the evening and got the discussion underway.

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Members were on the edge of their seats as the panelists discussed hot topics including email privacy, Target’s credit card breach and the nude celebrity leaked photos. Questions were flying even before the Q&A began. Everyone had an opinion on what it meant to be secure.

Check out what KeepSafe’s Founder & CEO had to say about security in his guest blog post, “O Data, Where Art Thou?”

As the discussion wound down, Tech in Motion members asked their final questions to the panel and were given the opportunity to mingle with the speakers. They networked over a final slice of pizza and beer. As the last members of the audience filed out, they exited the large, glass doors with new perspectives on how their information is being used, shared and protected. Join Tech in Motion SF to be in on their next event.

How to Succeed in Technology: A Chat with TrueCar’s John Williams

Tech in Motion LA hosted a tech talk with TrueCar‘s Senior Vice President of Platform Operations, John Williams, on all things tech and TrueCar – a company that is making sure car shoppers never overpay again. John gave attendees some valuable insight into how to stand out in the tech industry and what’s most important for success in going mobile, getting capital and beyond.LA tech talk

Here are a few highlights of the advice he shared with Tech in Motion LA during his tech talk this fall:

Mobile:

  • Look at what other companies are doing and improve upon their concepts, strategies and execution
  • Be aware of interaction models and how users are engaging in the mobile technology
  • Think about data
  • Real-time capabilities are extremely important in mobile

Capital:

  • Start with a great product that users are interested in
  • Make it as flawless as possible upon public release
  • Figure out what other businesses you can partner with for increased success
  • Relationships with investors & VC’s are key!

Other areas:

  • Execution is most important
  • Competition drives the product demand but isn’t necessary to succeed
  • Uniqueness is desirable
  • Be ready to exploit trends in technology

For more insight from top tech execs, join Tech in Motion LA and get invited to the next event.

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About John Williams: John Williams has over 20 years of experience designing, building and operating large scale Internet infrastructure. After joining TrueCar in March 2011, John is responsible for the technology, security and operations strategy that facilitates explosive growth while still meeting strict requirements for performance, security and reliability. Before TrueCar, John was a consultant for numerous world-class technology, financial services, entertainment, military and government organizations. Previously, he was the CTO and co-founder of Preventsys (acquired by McAfee) where he created the world’s first automated security policy compliance system for large enterprise networks. Prior to that he founded and led the network penetration testing team for Internet security pioneer Trusted Information Systems. At the start of his career, John co-founded and built one of New York City’s first Internet Service Providers.

The Future of Mobile in Boston

On Tuesday, June 17th, the Boston chapter of Tech in Motion held an exciting tech talk that was all about mobile at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge. The panel included some great mobile representatives from the Boston community, including Yoni Samlan, Head of Mobile at LevelUp, Dan Bricklin, Chief Technology Officer at Alpha Software, Greg Raiz, Founder and CEO of Raizlabs and Manny Elawar, a BlackBerry Developer Evangelist.

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The evening started with some food and networking before the panel convened to to discuss the topic at hand. To kick it off, the moderator Mark Eisenberg faced the panelists with the simple, but fitting question – where does the panel see the future of mobile going?

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The entire panel was in agreement that mobile phones are everywhere and they have become a common part of the average person’s everyday life. To illustrate the impact of mobile tech, Greg prompted the audience to raise their hands if they had a smart phone – and almost everyone had a hand in the air. Greg also mentioned how if you have a great idea, mobile apps make it easier to reach an entire population. Yoni spoke about being excited about wearable technology, predicting that they will seem as normal as a smart phone in the upcoming years.

From there, our moderator dove into other topics. There was the popular question of bringing your own device to work as opposed to having one supplied by the company. Many of the panel agreed that as smartphones advance, people would prefer to work on their own device due to the comfort and convenience of it being their own, personal device.  However, there is also the complication of security when dealing with high profile companies and projects.

Greg pulled from his own personal experience to say that “it’s important that my employers have the devices that they need in order to get their jobs done; [we want] to empower them to have the choice on what device they use”.

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Our panel then went into the discussion of creating mobile apps across various platforms; with the emergence of not only smartphones, but tablets as well. Several developers have to think of ways for the apps that they are creating to be supportive over all kinds of devices. Dan Bricklin spoke highly of using HTML5 to create apps.

“If you try to program an iOS without HTML5, you have to be a really good iOS developer,” Dan said. “It’s really good at a lot of business stuff, so you can build for a lot of different platforms.”

“For every enterprise you run into, you have a different legacy system and you have to put all the pieces together, which is the hardest part,” Manny chimed in. “So when we have a solution that allows developers to bring everything together, that is a great thing.”

Things got a little heated, however, when Greg wanted to mention that HTML5 isn’t the only way to go when creating applications. It is simply up to the reference of the developer.

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At the end of the discussion, Manny reflected again on how he feels mobile is going to be shaped.

“Everything is going to be connected, and there is going to be a new definition of mobile,” Manny commented.

Mobile will be defined differently in the sense that phones will still be the most important part – but new technological advances will change the way that we connect to stationary objects that we use every day. They are what will help redefine mobile. Manny gave an example that he hopes one day when he can get into a car, connect his phone, be able to adjust things like his radio preferences or whether he wants the windows open, all based on the information given from his mobile device.

Following the panel discussion, the speakers took questions from the audience.  Inspired by what had been discussed, the audience came up with some amazing questions that sparked further conversation between the panelists. Once the official panel discussion concluded, a large number of audience members pushed their way to the front of the room to see if they could get one-on-one time with our speakers. This panel definitely left the audience thinking about the future.

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We want to send out a big thank you to all of our speakers for their participation, Mark for moderating, the NERD Center for hosting us, and our monthly sponsors Workbridge Associates and Jobspring Partners as well as Fisku and Blackberry. Please join Tech in Motion: Boston to hear about our upcoming events!

Recap: Startup to Success with Tech in Motion NYC

This June, Tech in Motion NYC held an amazing “Startup to Success” panel discussion at NYU’s Global Center with an audience of over 300, which included co-founders, technical professionals, entrepreneurs and more. After settling in, the moderator Kunal Mehta, Author of The Disruptors Book, introduced the panel and guided the flow of conversation throughout the night by asking some great questions to the panelists, who were as diverse as the crowd.

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The panel boasted a lineup of very influential entrepreneurs and investors from the New York startup scene, including: Andrew Yang, Founder of Venture for America; Nihal Mehta, Founder of Local Response & General Parter at Eniac Ventures; Brett Martin, Entrepreneur, currently building Switch, & Co-founder of Sonar Media, Inc., and Anna Khan, Venture Capitalist at Bessemer Venture Partners.

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Kunal Mehta started the discussion by asking the panelists to introduce themselves and what they’re currently working on. Each panelist had their own, very unique stories as to how they got to where they are today and what they had to do to get there. During that time, Nihal Mehta explained how he relocated to San Francisco in 2001, right after the dot-com crash, to start a mobile marketing agency. He had essentially been “flying in when everyone was trying to fly out” of the dot-com scene. Life wasn’t the easiest for a couple of years and he grew his business during the day – and paid his bills by DJing and throwing parties at night. Eventually his company, ipsh! raised funds and was later sold to Omnicom in 2005.

Andrew, Nihal and Brett each had opted out of a traditional career in corporate American and were asked why they had chosen to do so. They explained they did so because they didn’t want to be stuck working meticulous corporate jobs their whole lives. For them, the biggest risk of not taking a leap to start a company was ending up doing something they really didn’t want to be doing.

Among the successes, the setbacks and the failures, the panelists discussed what qualities they often see in successful entrepreneurs. Anna Khan searches for the right entrepreneurs to back every day, and said, “I like to back Visionary Operators.” Nihal Mehta explained that it takes “grit” to succeed as a startup and Brett Martin said “resilience,” whereas Andrew Yang said “persistent adaptability.”

Overall, the panelists doled out a lot of really helpful advice about starting your own company and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

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After the panel concluded, the event was opened up to an audience-driven Q&A session. So many were eager to ask the panelists questions that even after the talk wrapped up, the panelists stayed late answering one-on-one inquiries from guests.

The evening was a big success and a lot of fun for everyone involved! Big thanks to our continued sponsors who helped make this event a success: Workbridge Associates, Jobspring Partners and Microsoft.