CBI Detroit

Troy-based firm hacks its way to security.


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Like the creators of many popular CSI shows, Steve Barone and his team at Troy-based Creative Breakthroughs Inc., or CBI, could craft a compelling detective series about IT compliance and risk management. One aspect of their work: Hacking into a client’s computer system.

“We’re white knight hackers,” says Barone, CBI’s president and CEO. “We try to hack our way in to see how secure a company’s IT system is. Local government sites are the easiest to tap into, and once you find one password, you can go a long way.” 

Barone, who started the firm in his garage in 1991, says the company helps clients better manage data while minimizing the risk of unauthorized use. The firm’s work includes migrating data from obsolete computer systems into state-of-the-art software offerings, boosting inventory tracking, and finding ways to increase user visibility.

“In some companies, the finance department has a different database from everyone else, and it can take a lot of manual labor to produce an (annual) audit report,” Barone says. To solve the problem, CBI can tap an existing Oracle database, for example, so that finance personnel have instant access to asset and inventory tracking.

The company, which works with software providers such as Dell and Microsoft, builds computer applications for smart phones and tablets. It also helps clients properly dispose of past-their-prime computers.

“You can buy a bunch of old computers at a flea market, and if you know what you’re doing, it’s pretty simple to find data on the computer,” Barone says. “It might not mean much, but if you have customer names, credit card information, or other financial data on there, you could have a recipe for disaster.” db 

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