Del Mar College’s David Abarca continues to climb the ladder of success, being recruited by the FBI to lead a special interest group for the Coastal Bend.
Abarca, who has been teaching computer science at Del Mar College for 15 years, was asked by the FBI to lead the Coastal Bend Special Interest Group, a branch of Houston’s Infragard chapter.
“Being selected by the FBI, being asked by them to lead this group is a bit of a natural progression,” Abarca said.
Infragard is a partnership between the FBI and the private sector, working with businesses, academic institutions and law enforcement to share intelligence and information to prevent hostile attacks against the U.S.
Infragard has 84 chapters with 54,000 members across the nation.
Abarca’s history with cybersecurity began in the late ’80s, working for IBM. Abarca specialized in protecting computer data from disasters and recovering the data if needed.
“In the early days, we didn’t have to worry about anyone stealing computers,” Abarca said jokingly. “The main concern (was) securing the data, being sure it was backed up and if there was a disaster the data would be able to be recovered and restored.”
Abarca eventually went into consulting, giving him the opportunity to meet with people around the area. He was playing golf when his playing partner offered to set him up an interview with Lee Larry, who was the department’s head of computer programming at the time.
Abarca said he had showed up at the right time and he was “a good fit for the needs of the department.”
During his 15 years of teaching Abarca never stopped working in cybersecurity on a local, statewide and even national level.
In 2011, Abarca was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to what is now called the Texas Cybersecurity Council. Being part of this council for the past six years has given Abarca lots of exposure to different problems on a statewide level. It has also connected him with all kinds of people in the government, the military and various businesses.
When the FBI expressed interest in expanding the Infragard program into the Corpus Christi area, Abarca was a point of contact for them.
According to Abarca, the first year of the SIG will mainly be spent recruiting businesses and individuals to join the group. Abarca will be working with John Bray, a port security specialist for the Coast Guard to bring others to the program.
“I think it’s superb that he’s stepped up to lead this effort,” Bray said. “He’s probably the most ideal person from Corpus Christi to lead this.”