October 1st, 2021
Cyber expert lauds community college training
InTech Solutions CEO: 'Community colleges really prepare people for work'
Cybersecurity expert Leia Shilobod, who also chairs the Westmoreland County (Pa.) Community College Board of Trustees, lauded the education delivered by community colleges during her featured presentation at the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce Business Before Hours event. "The hands-on experience that you get at a community college is hard to beat," said Shilobod.
When Leia Shilobod talks about community colleges, she speaks from experience.
"Community colleges really prepare people for work," the InTech Solutions CEO told Tuesday morning's Garrett County Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting at the Wisp Resort. Shilobod, a cyber security expert, was the featured speaker at the Chamber's annual Breakfast Before Hours Cybersecurity Update, sponsored this year by Garrett College and Premier Power Solutions.
"Most of the people who work for me came to my company as former community college students or as community college interns," said Shilobod, who also chairs the Westmoreland County (Pa.) Community College Board of Trustees. "The hands-on experience that you get at a community college is hard to beat."
Assistant Professor of Computer Science Rich Lewis, speaking on behalf of Garrett College, said a robust internship program provides GC students with real-world experience that helps students obtain post-graduate employment or continue on to four-year institutions.
"We've had quite a bit of success placing our students at the hospital [Garrett Regional Medical Center], First United [Bank & Trust], Leidos [Corporation], IBM, and other highly regarded employers," noted Lewis. "And we've had a lot of students interested in four-year degrees successfully transfer to outstanding institutions like Frostburg State University and UMGC [University of Maryland Global Campus]."
Shilobod went on to provide the Business Before Hours audience with an update on cybersecurity dangers. Her main message – hackers are a bigger danger than ever before.
"The pandemic emboldened cyber hackers," said Shilobod, noting 1-in-5 small and mid-sized organizations are now annually victims of cyber crimes. "They're the low-hanging fruit – small businesses often don't encrypt their information and they often think they're too small to matter to cyber criminals."
Shilobod said the "number-one threat" to businesses are their own employees.
"Some employees do this maliciously and purposefully," said Shilobod. "But most of the time employees don't even recognize the potential ramifications of their actions – for example, installing a free and unsecured file-sharing application on their computer when they're not supposed to."
Ironically, a large amount of cyber-related losses aren't due to high-tech programs – they're the result of lax physical security.
"Seventy million smartphones are lost annually and only 7 percent are recovered," said Shilobod, adding that 80 percent of the cost of lost laptops is from data breaches. Shilobod said over half of stolen laptops are swiped from work and another quarter are stolen at conferences.
While most of Shilobod's presentation focused on business-related issues, Shilobod emphasized her top advice for individual cyber security.
"Invest in a password manager tool," Shilobod advised. "That's your biggest bang for your buck. And use long and secure passwords – 14 characters or more."