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Cybersecurity Expert Explains How to Protect Your Personal, Business Assets from Threats

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When Stanton Gatewood began working in cybersecurity nearly four decades ago, it wasn’t even called cybersecurity.
Stanton Gatewood

When Stanton Gatewood began working in cybersecurity nearly four decades ago, it wasn’t even called cybersecurity.

“It was just Security and Information, Security InfoSec and things like that,” he said. “I’ve been very blessed to have worked in cybersecurity for 37 years or so. I worked in the United States Military and the United States Air Force.”

There wasn’t even a Department of Homeland Security back then. It wasn’t created until 2002.

Gatewood was the featured speaker at Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s First Friday breakfast on March 1 at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast. He shared information with the audience of small business owners, nonprofits and community leaders about the realities of cybersecurity and how to safeguard against threats.

Stanton Gatewood’s background in cybersecurity

Gatewood’s resume is quite extensive. He is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and CISA Region 4 Cyber Security Coordinator, an advisor for the State of Georgia. He was formerly the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the state of Georgia, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, and the University of Georgia.

He has over 35 years of cybersecurity and e-privacy experience in cybersecurity program management, strategic planning and executive leadership. He has worked in U.S. federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, as well as higher education and several top-10 global corporations.

Gatewood is also a USAF veteran and has served as the vice president for information technology and the chief information officer (CIO) for Albany State University. He has built two centers of excellence in cryptography and cyber awareness and training.

“You cannot stream news, watch TV or read a newspaper without the topic of cybersecurity [coming up],” he said. A lot of people will stand up and talk to you about cybersecurity, and they’re preaching fear and uncertainty that I don’t have.”

Understanding cybersecurity

Gatewood started his presentation with an overview of cybersecurity and went through some terminology.

First, he addressed awareness.

“Awareness can be broken into two categories, situational awareness and user awareness,” he said.

He encouraged the audience to learn as much as they could about cybersecurity and electronic piracy. Even though many people think they are aware of threats, they still click on suspicious links, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. 

“Situational awareness comes from the military. It means they’re letting us know exactly who’s in the area and what the environment is made up of. ‘What are our resources available? Who else is in the field that we communicate with and rely upon?’” he asked.

By staying aware, people should know where they’re going on the internet, who they’re communicating with, and that an attachment is safe to open. User awareness is a component of the security policy that should include educating and testing employees to help protect the business against cybercrimes, including phishing and other social-engineering attacks.

Preparedness is also key

“Do not fall asleep at the wheel of the internet,” said Gatewood. “Do not think that those 5 million people out there are all your friends.”

Social media accounts like Facebook can also be gateways for cybercrime.

“Over 65% of the breaches on the internet come from human error,” he said.

According to the government site ready.gov, cyberattacks can occur in many ways, including:

  • Accessing your personal computers, mobile phones, gaming systems and other internet- and Bluetooth-connected devices.
  • Damaging your financial security, including identity theft.
  • Blocking your access or deleting your personal information and accounts.
  • Complicating your employment or business services.
  • Impacting transportation and the power grid.

How to be resilient

Gatewood said almost everyone will be the victim of some sort of cyberattack. How the individual or business survives depends on resiliency—the ability to anticipate, withstand, recover from and adapt to adverse conditions, stresses, attacks or compromises on systems.

“You must have resilience; you must be in shape,” said Gatewood. “You must have the mindset of ‘I will not allow this to keep me down. I will go get my incident response plan. I will execute my incident response plan. I will find out if it’s truly an incident. I will then morph myself into a disaster recovery plan. I will morph myself into a business continuity plan. And then I’ll have a resumption of business plan.’”

Gatewood said he’s been called to help many times, and when he asked about a response plan, everyone looked like a deer caught in headlights.

“Moving in resilience, the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from any difficult situation or toughness, [is crucial],” he said.

He shared a term, “left of boom/bang,” that he wanted the audience to remember. It encourages them to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity and avoid possible threats by making decisions based on observation and intuition to prevent the bad from happening.

By the numbers

  • There are 5.3 billion internet users (66.2% of the world’s population).
  • There are 17 billion devices on the internet.
  • There are 1.6 billion records or files lost or stolen in the fiscal year 2023/2024 so far.
  • $183 is the average cost of a data breach per record.
  • 5.04 billion people used social media in 2023.

(Source cisa.gov)

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

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BRACK: Peachtree Corners to lose Peterbrooke Chocolatier

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Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson.
Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson. Photo provided.

Peachtree Corners will soon lose one of its most iconic, popular and tasty businesses.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier, run by Geoffrey Wilson and Scott Gottuso, has been told by Peachtree Forum landlords, North American Properties and Nuveen Real Estate, that its lease will not be renewed. The last day of business will be July 25.

Meanwhile, Peachtree Forum is getting several new stores. They include Kendra Scott, Sucre, and The NOW Massage. Previously announced were Alloy Personal Training, Cookie Fix, Gallery Anderson Smith, Giulia, Lovesac, Nando’s Peri-Peri and Stretchlab. Wilson adds: “We are not in their big picture.”

Wilson has operated Peterbrooke at the Peachtree Forum for 14 years and Gottuso has been there nine years. They have made the chocolatier profitable and doubled sales. Wilson says: “We turned it around through community involvement and made relationships. We worked with the schools, gave donations, did a lot in the community, and made a difference. We produce most everything we sell in the shop, so it’s labor intensive. We make European-style chocolate treats from scratch from the very best ingredients, package it, make gift baskets, and also sell a lot of gelato.”

Key items include truffles, hand-made caramels, cherry cordials, chocolate-covered cookies and pretzels and strawberries hand-dipped in their own blend of chocolates. (They are all good!) One of Wilson’s and Gottuso’s most iconic products is chocolate popcorn. Once you try it, regular popcorn is tasteless. “We sell a lot of it.” Wilson adds: “Gelato sales have carried us in the summertime, since there are not many chocolate holidays in the summer.”

Peterbrooke now has five employees, and would like to have 10, but it is difficult to hire people with the skills in chocolatiering. A key part of its business is corporate companies, such as Delta Air Lines and Capital Insight. The Peachtree Corners’ Peterbrooke has corporate customers as far away as Cleveland, Ohio.

The operators were surprised when the Forum owners did not renew its five year lease. “The big decisions were made in Charlotte or Cincinnati, not locally,” Wilson feels. “We were no longer in their big picture. They want new and glitzy, shiny, fancy and trendy.”

The operators plan to start their own chocolate company, to be called “Scoffrey,” and initially sell online, plus have pop-up locations during holidays, and possibly have a booth in other merchants’ stores on occasions.

“Whatever we do would look different. We might rent a space somewhere close by so that people can still have the good chocolate experience with us, but we won’t have a regular audience walking by.”

Another element: the price of chocolate futures has spiked this year, with a bad crop production year. Wilson says: “That is key to our business and a huge cost increase. That doesn’t help.”

Wilson adds that the forced closing of the Peterbrooke location “is something like the death of a friend. But you go to the funeral and to the wake, and in six months or a year, It won’t be so bad.”

Have a comment?  Send to: elliott@elliottbrack

Written by Elliott Brack

This material is presented with permission from Elliott Brack’s GwinnettForum, an online site published Tuesdays and Fridays. To become better informed about Gwinnett, subscribe (at no cost) at GwinnettForum

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North American Properties Revitalizes Avenue East Cobb

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North American Properties (NAP) has revamped the Avenue East Cobb shopping center in Marietta, boosting its appeal to suburban residents.
The Andrews Brothers performing at Avenue East Cobb via Instagram @avenueeastcobb

North American Properties (NAP) has revamped the Avenue East Cobb shopping center in Marietta, boosting its appeal to suburban residents seeking a more urban lifestyle. Now, it’s being honored as part of the Atlanta Business Chronicle‘s “Best in Atlanta Real Estate” coverage.

NAP is known for transforming properties like Atlantic Station, Colony Square and The Forum.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the redevelopment involved demolishing part of the main building to build a public plaza with a stage surrounded by restaurant patios.

A new concierge facility was also added, including a canopy for drop-offs. Additionally, smaller retail buildings were created for standalone tenants. The business mix was updated to include names like Warby Parker, Lululemon and Peach State Pizza.

NAP also increased community engagement by partnering with at least 10 local organizations for social events. These efforts have proven successful. Over the last two years, Avenue East Cobb has seen a 36% increase in sales per square foot thanks to a major rise in foot traffic.

More news from North American Properties can be found here.

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North American Properties Secures 3 New Brands for The Forum

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North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate announced three new businesses are planting flags at The Forum Peachtree Corners.
Sucré – A Sweet Boutique

North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate announced three new businesses coming to The Forum Peachtree Corners (The Forum). The new brands include Kendra Scott, Sucré, and The NOW Massage.

“We’re excited to keep expanding our merchandising mix with more experiential concepts that motivate guests to extend their time on property. In addition to these new leases, several tenants are on track to open over the next few months, and we can’t wait to see the impact,” said Brooke Massey, director of leasing at NAP.

Here are the latest deals to be signed at The Forum:

Kendra Scott ­­– Known for its plethora of accessories and customizable Color Bar experience, jewelry brand Kendra Scott blends classic designs with modern sophistication. Kendra Scott jewelry celebrates individuality and self-expression.

The growing brand has also donated over $50 million to local, national and international causes since its launch in 2010. The 2,284-square-foot space, situated next to Lovesac, opens later this spring, marking the retailer’s fourth location in the NAP portfolio.

Sucré – Founded in New Orleans, Sucré is a gourmet patisserie known for its macarons, gelato and other handmade, French-inspired desserts.

The sweet boutique will occupy a 1,718-square-foot space on the north end of the property and is slated to open later this year. Georgia is the brand’s first out-of-state venture, with The Forum being its third metro Atlanta location and eighth overall.

The NOW Massage – This brand is helping people discover the healing benefits of massage therapy.

The customizable menu offers guests three signature massage styles and a variety of exclusive enhancements like Deep Tissue, Herbal Heat Therapy, Hemp Calm Balm, Gua Sha, Gliding Cupping and more. Located near Mojito’s, the 2,414-square-foot massage boutique debuts late summer. 

These businesses join:

 Alloy Personal Training (opening this month),
Cookie Fix (open),
Gallery Anderson Smith (opening this month),
Giulia (opening this spring),
Lovesac (open),
Nando’s Peri-Peri (coming winter 2024), and
Stretchlab (open).

Since acquiring the property in March 2022, NAP has executed 39 deals with new, existing and temporary tenants alike.

To stay up to date on the latest happenings at The Forum, follow on Facebook Instagram, and X or visit theforumpeachtree.com.

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