Some hackers use their skills for good, help with cybersecurity

Computer hacking was discussed at SXSW in Austin

SAN ANTONIO – Hackers are known to use their computers skills to gain access to sensitive data and personal information, but there are hackers who use their skills for good. 

Hacking was one of the topics at SXSW in Austin.

Josh Schwartz held a session called Simulating Criminal Hackers to Strengthen Security. 

“My role is the villain. I get paid not to build things, but to break them,” Schwartz said. 

Schwartz is the offensive security director for Verizon Media. 

“Among other things, I run our Red Team, which is tasked to simulate our adversaries, this includes hacking into computers as well as breaking into buildings and social engineering,” Schwartz said. “Basically, we pretend to be the bad guys in order to test our own security systems.” 

Lorena Mesa attended the session and came from Chicago. Mesa said the more companies and the public know about hacking, the better they can protect themselves.

“I do a lot of work with an open source and this is a topic that is relevant to my professional interest, but also as a digital citizen, I care a lot about it,” Mesa said. 

Some of those digital citizens work right here in San Antonio. 

Will Garrett is Port SA’s vice president and director of cybersecurity development. 

“The cyber community has grown rapidly here,” Garrett said. 

Garrett said San Antonio is home to some of the world’s best “white hat” hackers who use their experience to make sure companies don’t fall prey to hackers. 

“San Antonio, like many things around cybersecurity, has a very large presence of federal agencies --not in the United States Air Force that focuses on fraud and personal identifiable information attacks,” Garrett said. 

This puts Military City USA at the forefront in the cyber-war against hacking. 

“San Antonio geographically is at a crossroads, for a lot of movement in this country, from the south, from the north, and with that comes both electronic and physical security needs,” Garrett said.  

About the Authors: