Jacksonville cybersecurity expert honored

Tommy Desquitado receives FBI’s “Meeting the Challenge Award.”

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As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, Palo Alto Networks Jacksonville office Senior Cyber Security Architect Tommy Desquitado has been recognized by the FBI for his contributions.

Those contributions help protect local organizations from cyber threats by developing programs to improve communication and collaboration between law enforcement and cyber professionals in the private sector.

He was nominated for the 2017 Meeting the Challenge Award by members of the Jacksonville chapter of InfraGard, a program that began in 1996 at the FBI’s Cleveland office. It has since expanded to 84 chapters at 56 field offices in the U.S. with about 50,000 members.

During the past year, Desquitado helped develop educational programs and information sharing events that were instrumental in increasing awareness of, and response to, emerging cyber threats facing local businesses and educational institutions, according to a bureau news release.

“This was for the greater good,” Desquitado, a former FBI contract employee, said in the release.

“I know firsthand how important it is for law enforcement and businesses to work together to combat ever-changing cyber threats. When we share information, we are all better protected,” he added.

According to the FBI’s 2016 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received that year nearly 300,000 reports of ransomware, tech support fraud and extortion, with losses of more than $1.3 billion.

InfraGard helps members maintain real-time communication with law enforcement agencies to ensure that the private sector can access the latest security updates and threat information. The national group includes business executives, military and government officials, computer professionals, state and municipal law enforcement agencies, educators and entrepreneurs.

Participation is limited to U.S. citizens who consent to an FBI security risk assessment and agree to a confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement.

After being accepted, members have a direct line of communication with federal law enforcement agencies and subject matter experts. They receive the latest threat advisories, intelligence bulletins, analytical reports and vulnerability assessments from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security through access to a members-only web portal maintained by the bureau.

For more information about membership in the federal cyber-crime program, visit infragard.net.