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Facing new threats: Navy vet deals in cybersecurity
Flowery Branch man operates CMIT Solutions franchise
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Tom Shirey's background in maintaining computers with the Navy has helped him launch a cybersecurity firm serving small and medium-sized businesses, as well as area households. - photo by Scott Rogers

The threats were different when Tom Shirey of Flowery Branch was maintaining computers aboard a Navy attack submarine.

“It was at the height of the Cold War and I was deployed to places that if we had been discovered, it probably wouldn’t have been the best thing,” he said. “And when you’re at sea on a sub and your equipment breaks, you have no one to rely on but yourself.”

Today, as president of CMIT Solutions of Lanier, Shirey’s enemy has more to do with cybersecurity than national security, but the worries are still present.

“Small businesses are particularly vulnerable if they lose their data, many of them go out of business,” he said.

Working out of his office off Lake Lanier, Shirey works with businesses with five to 500 employees.

“We have the big company resources for help with finding the best products to fit small and medium-sized businesses,” said Shirey, who started the business earlier this year.

Many businesses “will have an (information technology) guy who is the smartest guy they know, but he’s not a professional IT guy,” he said. “He knows a lot about computers and can make everything work, but he doesn’t how to deal with business continuity issues.

“And that’s really important for small businesses.”

Founded in 1996 as an IT training and support provider, CMIT Solutions now has franchises, including Shirey’s, throughout the United States, covering 170 areas. The Atlanta area has six other franchises, he said. 

The company focuses “on developing and maintaining local, trust-based relationships with its customers,” its website states. His services include helping businesses set up a domain name, firewall or wireless network, as well as getting new equipment.

“IT right now is so complex with many different vendors and products,” Shirey said.

Compliant with health privacy laws, he can work with doctor’s offices, “putting in a managed firewall that allows ... an update of security settings as new threats emerge,” as well as making sure all data is encrypted.

CMIT also offers a 24/7 help desk for all its customers.

Shirey also has a few residential customers.

“One (of them) lost his hard drive,” he said. “I was able to help him rebuild his computer, get it restored and put software back on there.”

As for his own experience, after high school in Pennsylvania, Shirey spent six years in submarine confines as a technician repairing the systems for the central computer complex. 

After the Navy, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and worked for a time for a defense company. Shirey moved to Georgia in 1994 to pursue his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech. He then worked for 21 years in research and development for a company that built weapons simulators for military and law enforcement use.

Shirey is hoping to grow his client base and eventually open an office outside his home, but otherwise, he feels like he has found his fit.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Shirey said. “I am a part of an organization with remarkable resources. CMIT Solutions allows me to fulfill a long-time goal of owning my own business, while at the same time contributing to the community by providing a valuable service.”

CMIT Solutions of Lanier

More info: or 678-948-6101

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President of CMIT Solution of Lanier Tom Shirey has launched a cybersecurity firm serving small and medium-sized businesses, as well as area households. - photo by Scott Rogers
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