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Michiana companies stand on the front lines of cyber warfare

Michiana techies have found their niche, standing on the front lines of cyber security, and the war over your information.

From major corporation hacks to those annoying email scams, cyber security is virtually everyone's problem.

"Think about how much we are reliant on technology," said Elliot Forsyth of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. "We live in a very connected world, and hackers are trying to find ways for personal gain."

 South Bend's Innovative Integration works with larger companies to help them combat digital threats.

And beyond, through Elkhart and St. Joseph counties, Extreme PC works with local residences and small business.

"Folks are saying wait, let me take a look at it and see how secure my personal stuff is," said Ray Barnham of Extreme PC.

The heads of both companies spoke with ABC 57 about their most common bouts with digital crooks.

Ted Tomkins, of Innovative Integration, says his biggest bouts are in the inbox.

"One of the most prevalent things we are seeing these days is the ransomware and phishing emails," said Tomkins. "Emails that look like they are coming from someone else."

But to get to those bigger companies, Ray Barnham, of Extreme PC, says hackers target small business.

"That's how they are able to access the larger business. And that's how Target was hacked," said Barnham. "It was a small corporation. They backed door the small corporation to get into targets website."

Cyber Security continues to be a priority for businesses in 2017. According to the latest report from the enterprise strategy group, 69 percent of businesses say they will be increasing cyber security spending this year.

"People are seeing more and more need for it to get protected. Much more than they have in the past," said Tomkins.

That means demand is high. And business is good.

"We grow it in between 10 and 20 percent yearly we've been growing," said Tomkins.

"Over the next three years, we'll probably pick up another 75 to 100 customers," said Barnham.

With that demand comes the challenge of finding a qualified workforce

"It is hard to find qualified people to add to that. There are people who misrepresent themselves," said Tomkins.

Local efforts like the South Bend Code School are working to get those jobs filled.

"If a kid knows early on knows they want to get into cyber security, they can let us know that and we can teach them particular skills for those career fields," said Alex Liggins, co-founder of the South Bend Code School.

In the meantime, both Tomkins and Barnham are pushing ahead, to protect their clients data. And yours.

While Cyber Security is fast growing market here in Michiana, both men are prepared for ebbs and flows in business, because tech trends change as the economy does. If your business or home needs help, you can reach out to Extreme PC at 574-383-9194 or Innovative Integration at 574-485-2040.

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