Five Questions With: Joe Devine

Tech Collective Executive Director Joe Devine spoke with PBN about the upcoming Rhode to Resilience workshop presented by the Global Cyber Alliance on Oct. 16.

The GCA, a nonprofit based in New York City, was founded four years ago to offer companies ways to maximize cybersecurity.

The group is coming to Providence with specific modules that can help small businesses minimize risk. Space for the free event is limited to 75 attendees.


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PBN: What are the details that small-business owners should know about this event?

DEVINE: It’s National Cyber Security Month, and this kicks off our Rhode Island-based cybersecurity Rhode to Resilience series to help our local small businesses. It’s presented by the Global Cyber Alliance, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., sponsored by Mastercard. It’s right at the Tech Collective, which is at 188 Valley St. in Providence. It’s a free training, but space is limited. Attendees should bring their laptops. We have Lt. Gov. [Daniel J.] McKee confirmed as opening speaker.

PBN: You have mentioned that large companies have a vested interest in helping smaller companies with cybersecurity. How so?

DEVINE: Tech Collective has a steering committee to guide our cybersecurity program, with chief information security officers from larger companies, as well as academics from colleges that teach cybersecurity, and highly skilled cybersecurity practitioners. These larger companies are interested in strengthening their supply chains. They have spent significant resources to harden their own security and train their employees, which are often the weakest cyber link.

But there are bad actors trying to gain access to all companies and sometimes the easiest way into the large company is through a small business in their supply chain. We look to take care of supply chains and do what we can to help all supply chains with cybersecurity resilience. By strengthening them, we’re improving the security posture of the whole state, which makes us a more attractive economic-investment target and removes concerns.

PBN: What is a common area of cybersecurity concern with small businesses?

DEVINE: It’s the social engineering – phishing emails. Those are probably the area that is the most troublesome. You click on the wrong email, or even pick up a phone and tell them something you shouldn’t, and it allows them to further violate security. Systems [such as] Microsoft [Office] 365 have multifactor authentication and encryption provided, but many people don’t configure it because they don’t know it’s there. It’s not crazy difficult, but it’s not intuitive.

PBN: The GCA Toolkit for Small Business will be reviewed in modules at the workshop. What do they include in terms of topics?

DEVINE: Module 1 is all about cyber risks, what cyberthreats are out there and why cybersecurity matters. Module 2 teaches attendees how to test their passwords to see if they’ve been compromised, and all about two-factor authentication, or 2FA. Ways to prevent phishing and viruses is the topic of Module 3; attendees will learn how anti-virus software works and how to install it. Modules 4, 5 and 6 are comprised of information on [Domain Name System] security, data backups and the DMARC protocol — Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance – with modules just continuing from there. The toolkit has protection information that businesses can put to use right away.

PBN: What is the goal of the series overall?

DEVINE: With the Rhode to Resilience, we want companies to get more resilient and improve their cybersecurity posture. It’s an ongoing battle against cybercrime.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.