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Amid the pandemic, the tech industry could help diversify Nevada’s economy

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Christopher DeVargas

Idan Udi Edry is CEO of Trustifi, a cybersecurity firm based in Las Vegas.

Mon, Jun 29, 2020 (2 a.m.)

When vast numbers of people began working from home this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, it created a problem for companies’ information technology departments.

Communications between workers’ home Wi-Fi and their employers’ network provided new doors for cybercriminals. And those opportunities for hackers with nefarious intentions have in turn led to more business for outfits like Trustifi, a small email security firm based in Las Vegas.

“People working from home creates big vulnerabilities for employers,” said Idan Udi Edry, CEO of Trustifi.

Every day, Trustifi employees see security breaches that can result in ransomware attacks—the threat to publish or sell compromised data sets or information unless a “ransom” is paid—or the posting of individual or company information to the dark web, Edry said.

It’s something some business owners don’t worry about until they have to, at which point it can be too late.

“Let’s say you’re a real estate agency or a law firm or CPA firm,” Edry said. “All of your bookkeeping and accounting and sensitive information is being transferred from somebody’s network at home, which is not on a secure platform. That could expose your entire business.

“A hacker could send a simple phishing email and eventually control the network," he added. “We’ve seen a 337% increase in phishing cases since the pandemic started.”

With 24 employees—about a dozen of whom are based in Las Vegas—Trustifi isn’t a huge company, but it’s growing.

It doesn’t only work with small businesses. The company could have an agreement soon with at least one large casino operator in Las Vegas, Edry said.

“There’s been big growth in the number of clients and potential clients contacting us,” Edry said. “Many never thought about this before, but now they understand that working from home, for many, is not going to be a temporary thing.”

Rimini Street, another locally based tech company, has also experienced an uptick in business.

Bigger than Trustifi—Rimini Street has about 1,300 employees in nearly two dozen countries—the software support company has been busy hiring this year.

Rimini Street’s client list includes well-known brand names like Chiquita, Circle K Stores, Welch Foods Inc., and Las Vegas-based gaming industry supplier Scientific Games.

Rimini Street’s offices have been closed for months, with employees working remotely, but it hasn’t missed a beat. The company, which went public in 2017, recorded its best quarter during the first three months of 2020.

Co-founder and CEO Seth Ravin said Rimini Street grew by 11% year-over-year in 2019 and hopes to top that this year.

“We don’t have to go to client sites or visit clients; we can do it all remotely,” Ravin said. “That’s an advantage in the kind of environment we have today. We’ve been adding hundreds of clients every year, and we continue to accelerate that.”

Much of Rimini Street’s business comes from securing annual software system maintenance contracts. Tax codes are constantly changing, for example, which means payroll software programs often need to be updated. That provides more business for opportunities for Rimini Street.

Ravin said Rimini Street has been particularly useful to clients this year by helping to cut costs.

“It’s nice to be a silver lining story in the middle of all of this negative stuff,” Ravin said. “We are one of the companies out there really helping other companies to cut costs and stabilize their operation. That can allow those companies to save jobs in some cases.”

Ravin said Southern Nevada is a good place for tech companies, in part because of what he described as a business-friendly environment in the state.

Tech companies have also helped diversity Nevada’s economy, which is largely dependent on hospitality and gaming. The tourism industry has been hit hard during the pandemic.

“My hope is that the major economic outcome of the pandemic is a reinvention to a more resilient economy in Southern Nevada,” said John Restrepo, an economic forecaster and principal of the Las Vegas firm RCG Economics.

“Our focus should not be on restoring an economy that has proven once again to be the least capable in the U.S. to absorb sudden or even slow-moving shocks,” he said. “While the lodging and hospitality industry will continue to predominate for some time to come, our community leaders must give their undivided attention to economic resilience.”

This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.

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