The around 60 members of the IT Professionals Association meet once a month. According to the group's president, Jimmy Edwards, "The purpose of ITPA is to bring together IT professionals in the Savannah community for the purposes of sharing information so that we can do our jobs better, basically."
Their jobs are to keep our companies running, using computers to help our productivity. Members come from high-tech departments in companies all over the area.
"We have quite a few different specialties within our membership, so we try to hit all those specialties," said Edwards. "The specialties being networking, programming, security, etc."
They area also charged with protecting those computers from criminal activity, which can knock your business offline or steal from your customers. That's why they invited Special Agent Joseph Swiatek of the Savannah FBI office to tell them about a program called InfraGard.
"In the past, groups in technology may have thought that there's nothing they could do about [cybercrime]," said Swiatek. "And that's our goal in InfraGard is to tell them, 'Yes, it is a crime, this is how the federal government prosecutes it, and this is how you need to report it.' And that way, hopefully we get some of these people away from their computers that are doing these crimes, and put them in jail."
Combining technical know-how with law enforcement resources is what Swiatek says is unique about the program.
"With this being one of the newer types of crime that's out there, we in law enforcement feel it's important that we have access to technical people so we can see what the issues are that they're facing," he said.
Swiatek says he's hoping to have the resource-sharing program up and running in the Coastal Empire by late this year or early next year, but meantime, there is an active chapter in Atlanta people here can get involved in. Membership in the program is on an individual basis, but the FBI says they're interest in people who will actively participate in sharing information. Applicants will be subject to a background check that Swiatek says will concentrate mostly on felony convictions.