Mee, Janyx, Techfarms’ Newest Tenant

by: Stephanie Gorges

Cybersecurity has drawn international attention in recent years, with data breaches, phishing scams, and election interference regularly grabbing headlines.

But for David Mans, owner of cybersecurity company Janyx, securing the nation’s digital infrastructure starts on a much smaller scale.

“The biggest question I’m asked is, ‘Who needs to worry about cybersecurity?’” said Mans, a Marine Corps veteran with 25 years of experience in information technology. “They’ll say, ‘I’m a small-town flower shop. Who’s gonna care about targeting me?’ But from a hacker’s perspective, it’s not about you yourself. He’s looking for weak targets.”

Small businesses’ websites quickly became easy entry points for hackers, a lesson Mans learned in Janyx’s early years. The company, started in New York in 2013, had focused primarily on custom software development services. But as hacking and breaches became more widespread and publicized, Janyx began offering cybersecurity in 2016 — with instant results. By early 2018, the company had conducted 168 forensic investigations.

“That entails a lot,” Mans said. After verifying an incident has occurred — meaning it happened over a computerized system, was conducted by a human, and was done with malicious intent — Mans and other investigators determine the extent of the breach and begin damage control. “From there, we identify how the intrusion took place and to what extent did they get inside that system? Did someone download something they shouldn’t have when they clicked the link in their email, or is it somebody actually pivoting throughout the network, moving from computer to computer?”

Investigators then work to reverse-engineer the malicious software and trace it to its origin, at which point the investigation often is turned over to law enforcement. It’s a process that has been repeated millions of times in recent years, propelling cybersecurity spending in the U.S. from $40 billion in 2013 to $66 billion in 2018, according to figures compiled by research and advisory firm Gartner.

“I got the realization that our weakest link in the national infrastructure are the companies that don’t have the resources or technical proficiency to protect themselves,” Mans said. “They don’t know how to start, where to begin, or even what it encompasses.”

Mans decided to bring that knowledge back to his hometown of Panama City, relocating Janyx to TechFarms in July. His mission is simple: protecting those who otherwise can’t protect themselves in today’s digital landscape.

“A lot of times, what we’re seeing is the businesses themselves have a good reputation as a small, mom-and-pop flower shop that doesn’t bother anybody, so the hacker sets up a program on that weak server that sends out phishing emails,” he said. “So now that company has unwittingly become an accomplice to this person’s crime. On day one, anybody, whether it’s a personal website or a business account, needs to look at cybersecurity. You put one computer asset on there and connect it to a network, and you need to start looking at cybersecurity.”

Janyx also covers the preventive side of cybersecurity — preventing the hacker from “getting to the family jewels, if you will” — cybersecurity consulting, software development, and cloud computing consulting.

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