Code-a-thon recruits next generation of tech employees

- The word "hacker" brings to mind a face hidden behind a computer screen stealing secret information.  At SRQ-Cyber Command Center, that's not the case.

"Hacker is not the bad guy behind the computer. Hacker is somebody who is very interested in finding the fastest way to the end goal," said Erica Bowles.

Those are the people Bowles wants for her team. She heads the newest tech company in Sarasota.

"I grew up here so I also wanted to be able to offer the skills that I've developed over time," she said.

Bowles is asking hackers and coders to apply for a code-a-thon competition. She'll look for applicants who can quickly develop a solution to a problem online.

"It's not just the degree. It's more or less what this person is willing to do and has shown a history of self-learning," said Bowles.

Bowles founded CopyStrong -- a digital copyright enforcement and protection firm.  If you try to copy content on a website, she says, their software protection will catch it.

"We have something that pops up," Erica pointed out.

From there, a profile of the user can be made. They can track where the information has been posted or distributed.

"We want to find out exactly who they are, what they did and why they're doing what they're doing," she said.

For her current employees, the challenge is new every day.

"It's a little stressful at times. We are trying to give businesses a leg up on all the people doing the evil things around the world," said James Hanratty, lead designer.

After all, every second of the day there is someone waiting for you to let your guard down.But Erica and her team are waiting to step in with protection.

"Basically we make the internet safe," said Hanratty.

There's a code-a-thon recruitment event scheduled for July 12 at SRQ Cyber Command Center. For more information visit

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