Black Cat Matches Cyber to Physical Security Efforts

CHEYENNE – Black Cat is in the 1% of American Institute of Steel Construction erectors with a perfect safety record, receiving Gold Safety awards in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and wanted to apply this safety consciousness to the world of cyber and thus entered Wyoming’s 2022 Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses.

“Even though we only have four office workers using five computers and three foremen using iPads, it doesn’t mean we couldn’t be attacked,” said Black Cat Cyber Leader Meagan Herrington.  Herrington explained that the use of cloud systems and personal cell phones are a risk to identity or credential (user ID and password) theft that could affect Black Cat.

Black Cat’s mission to safely and efficiently help bring buildings to life was first translated to protecting intellectual property, company information and processes, company assets, and employee and customer information.  Herrington’s goal was to merge cyber protections with the existing pride and consciousness that Black Cat employees showed towards physical security.

“If an employee isn’t safe online, he or she can put everyone, including customers, at risk,” said Herrington.

Not having any technical professional help, Herrington took the initiative.  While many would think that having only four office employees and fifteen field employees would make for easy solutions, Herrington immediately realized that it would be important to tailor written responsibilities to three different categories of employees: field employees, foremen, and office employees. 

“It is insane how much more extensive policy writing is.  Our policies and trainings are relevant to the employees and they know what is expected of them,” said Herrington.  At one point in hounding the foremen with security questions, one responded “Now what do you want from me?” Writing the policies removed that question from the equation.

During the competition, Black Cat met 99% of their own security goals and completed 96% of risk recommendations, the largest of which was completing a hardware, software, and cloud systems inventory followed by policy writing and incident response planning. 

The 2022 Competition was supported by a grant from Microsoft and the Department of Workforce Services and due to CyberWyoming’s 2022 members and sponsors: Capitol Communications Inc., Campbell County Health, Cheyenne State Bank, CPU (Computer Professionals Unlimited), DigeTekS LLC, EvnTec, Factory IT, First Federal Bank & Trust, First Interstate Bank, Gannett Peak Technical Services, HUB International, IECA, K2 Technologies, Manufacturing Works, PDS, Sweetwater Technology Services, and TEAM.  For more information about the 2023 Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses visit https://cyberwyoming.org/competition.

The competition was developed by CyberWyoming in 2018 to encourage Wyoming small businesses to meet best practices in cybersecurity through a home grown program called Made Safe in Wyoming™.  The competition has gained national and international attention being the only of its kind and, in February of 2022, won a Gula Tech Foundation Award to expand in 2023. CyberWyoming recently announced this expansion and is looking for local economic development agencies who want to house a Cybersecurity Business Counselor. 

“We wanted to encourage traditional economic development agencies to incorporate security and information protection into their member offerings, so we used the Gula Tech Grant to incentivize them to train a staff member with our program,” said Laura Baker, Executive Director of CyberWyoming.

Baker said the goal of the program expansion is to raise business community awareness by installing local cybersecurity business counselors that can help with security planning and programs, then encourage connection with other companies and organizations locally to fill the holes.

Those economic development agencies interested in expanding their services with the Made Safe/Competition Program should contact Baker at info@cyberwyoming.org or 307.314.2188.

About Black Cat:  Black Cat is a small construction company that provides planning, delivery, and steel erection, taking pride in their exemplary safety rating.  Black Cat joined the Competition to learn to secure its two offices and manage ongoing risks, especially since they didn’t have a relationship with a technology managed service provider.  As the Competition progressed, Black Cat realized that safety includes cyber safety and that some of the routine OSHA, First Aid, Welding, Personal Protective Equipment, and job site trainings could easily incorporate cyber topics.  For more information: https://blackcatwyo.com/.

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