WASHINGTON - CompTIA ChannelCon 2018, the tech industry's premier education, networking and partnering event, wrapped up its run here Thursday with sessions on cybersecurity and emerging technologies and words of advice from the 17-year-old CEO of a drone company.
"There are people like me in every school and every class," Alex Taylor, founder and CEO of Wind Craft Aviation, an experimental aerospace company developing drone technology, said during a ChannelCon main stage interview session. "They just need to be given the opportunity."
Taylor, a member of the CompTIA Drone Advisory Council, was born in California; lived in Turkey for 10 years with his missionary parents; founded Wind Craft when he was 14; and, at age 16, become the youngest license commercial drone pilot in the United States.
"When we say drones, we are talking about the evolution of aviation," Taylor explained. "This a completely new innovation that is making aviation more accessible, affordable and practical."
The teen also shared his views on the state of classroom learning in the U.S.
"Everybody is different, and I don't think we recognize that in education," Taylor said. "Kids should have the freedom to choose the classes and the curriculum they want."
Another session on drones focused on current and future commercial applications. Some of today's most popular uses of drone are in support of public safety activities, surveys and surveillance, asset tracking, and monitoring of structures such as cell phone towers.
"What our clients are looking for is quicker access to data and information," said Frank Segarra, CEO, ConnexiCore™, a provider of commercial UAV drone flight services and solutions. "The drone can perform that in an enormous time saving way."
Tasks that once took days, weeks or months can now be done in a few hours, he explained. For example, a drone can capture hundreds of images that can be stitched together to create an orthomosaic map; a grouping of overlapping images of a defined area that create a highly detailed, up-to-date map of an area that is in true scale.
"It's about getting information to the right people at the right time," said Richard Lopez, virtual design and construction for Hensel Phelps, one of the largest general contractors and construction managers in the U.S. "It's amazing how much time and money we can save."
The State of Cybersecurity
Also at ChannelCon Thursday, two cybersecurity experts shared their perspectives on current threats and countermeasures.
"There is still a need and a use for basic security architecture; firewalls, antivirus and intrusion detection," said Cody Mercer, senior global threat security analyst at Malwarebytes. "But now as we've ventured more into a cloud infrastructure, it's turning into perimeter-less security. A majority of security lies with the end point devices."
Tim Brown, vice president, security, for SolarWinds MSP, agreed, noting that the advent of new and more numerous technologies "has caused us to do more."
"I am a fan of having multi-tiered (security) models," Brown explained. "The closer you are to the end point, the more inspection you can do."
The Internet of Things is an example of the challenge facing cybersecurity professionals.
"Everything has an IP address," Mercer said. "But at the end of the day companies that are designed to make televisions and refrigerators are not designed to implement security."
Brown agreed that IoT devices are not built as securely as they need to be. But he also said that shouldn't deter the use of IoT.
"We can't be scared, and we can't slowdown," Brown said. " We have to think about IoT not just as a function, but as the information it can give you. There are so many benefits."
Asked for advice on practical measures that can be taken to become more cybersecure, Brown and Mercer cited actions such as having good backup plans in place; installing patches and software updates in a timely manner; and incorporating security aware and training for all employees in a company.
"If we can get more of the environment up to a base level, it will make it more difficult for someone to get it," Brown advised. "If you are not taking care of the basics you are being negligent and irresponsible."
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