CyberWyoming Expanding Program to Local Economic Development Agencies

LARAMIE – Four different economic development agencies will be selected to expand their client services to include cybersecurity business counseling and the 5 year proven Made Safe in Wyoming™ program.

Thanks to a Gula Tech Foundation grant, the first year’s license and training fees will be waived and the agencies will be paid $250 for up to 15 small businesses to run through the program in the first year.

“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.

Economic development agencies, like incubators and chambers, often have business advising services that include business and strategic planning as well as market research. Building cybersecurity into strategic plans and operating budgets is a logical next step, Baker said. 

“Having a pulse on their business community puts economic development agencies one step ahead of other organizations when security planning is in progress and resources are needed,” she said. “Networking and referrals occur almost naturally.”

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.

“Because the Made Safe in Wyoming program is a high touch, human focused, one-on-one training program, it makes sense to have local cybersecurity business counselors,” said Baker.

To add an element of fun, each new agency accepted into the program can enter their business clients into Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses, she said. A secondary goal of the program expansion is to have local winners compete at the state level.

“The outcomes are extremely positive,” Baker said. “Competition participants have more confidence, feel empowered, have more tools in their toolbox, and can actively address their cybersecurity risks.“

“As an attorney, I have a duty to safeguard client information.  Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses educated me on how to effectively implement and optimize processes to properly uphold this responsibility in a way that makes sense for my business,” said Shelby Hughes, Hughes Legal LLC, and a 2022 winner in the Cybersecurity Competition.

At the beginning of the program, 66% of participants were either neutral, a little nervous, or not at all confident with the subject of cybersecurity, Baker said. At the end, all participants reported more confidence with 77% reporting feeling very confident with the subject of cybersecurity.  At the beginning of the program, 63% felt neutral, somewhat alone, or very alone on the topic of cybersecurity. At the end, 97% felt they had some people or had a large network of people. At the end of the program participants reported the following achievements: 93% felt supported by their cybersecurity team, 93% felt they had an improved product or service for their customers, 100% felt they had created relationships that would support their ongoing cybersecurity efforts, 93% felt they could maintain their cybersecurity maintenance schedule going forward, 83% felt they had achieved their cybersecurity goals, 70% felt that their customers or community would recognize their efforts.

“We want to see if having local business counselors will increase the recognition statistic,” said Baker, “However, this program isn’t technical in nature and the outcomes prove that it gives business leaders control and a roadmap to manage their security risks.”

For more information about the Made Safe Program expansion and Wyoming’s Cybersecurity competition for Small Businesses, contact CyberWyoming at info@cyberwyoming.org.

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