Final Day of Cybersecurity Conference Focused on Business

By Laura Baker, CyberWyoming Alliance Board President

Businesses, especially without IT help, know that they are at risk but often don’t know what to do about it. National standards are often hard for the layperson to decipher. As a cybersecurity competition winner said in her speech, “The NIST 800-171 is in a different language.”

The day started with Laura Baker from the CyberWyoming Alliance reviewing different programs to help citizens and businesses educate themselves and take action, but quickly moved on to announcing the 2021 Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Business winners and hearing about their journey. The Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses finished its 4th year and each year Sheridan has had a company in the top 3, being the reigning champ for cybersecurity awareness across the state.

Wyoming Manufacturing Works hosted the next session and discussed the programs available in Wyoming to small manufacturers and businesses across the state if they want to get government contracts. Rocky Case, Executive Director for Wyoming Manfacturing Works, shared the session with Jennifer Kurtz, the program director for the Colorado equivalent called Manufacturer’s Edge.

Steven Lupien from the UW Center for Blockchain and Digital Innovation moderated a session called Innovative Uses of Blockchain in Business, featuring Keith Estenson from Buildsquare who is using NFTs (nonfungible tokens), smart contracts, and blockchain to solve the problem of construction liens. Estenson said the the $1 trillion construction industry is the slowest paying industry at 84 days for construction professionals to be paid. He stated that construction pros are essentially financing the construction project as unsecured creditors. He demonstrated a construction NFT wallet where professionals like plumbers, electricians, and roofers can get credit towards the labor and materials they put into the contsruction project, so that the NFT becomes more valuable with the work they have completed. Also featured was Sheepchain (Sheep tracking blockchain) and UW’s Dr. Whit Stewart, a way to track the wool created by Wyoming sheep from the seedstock producer all they way through the process to the consumer. Lupien stated that with Beefchain the livestock and product values increased by 10-20% and, thus, UW decided to apply the same concept to sheep and wool production.

Switching gears to personal reflection, Dr. Erik Huffman discussed what makes people click. In his new research, he took the top 5 personality traits and broke them down into more detailed sub traits. When he compared the general population to IT professionals, he found there wasn’t a lot of difference in what makes people click. The IT pros weren’t much better than anyone else when it comes to phishing emails. However, there was one significant difference. The IT pros were much less likely to fall for a fake website asking for personal information.

UW provided some amazing speakers in the last day of the conference including Dr. Mike Borowczak discussing NFTs (non fungible tokens). Since this is such a new technology and concept, Borowczak encouraged everyone to really think through use cases before going to the trouble of developing an NFT. And Vice Provost Anne Alexander summarized UW’s digital pillars and the strategic thinking behind the initiative. Alexander said “Students are expecting more digital, inclusive, interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial skills.” Alexander emphasized that the new School of Computing’s purpose was not to make every student a coder, but to integrate computing into every discipline at the university so graduates can be better prepared for the workforce.

The wrap up session was hosted by DigeTekS’s CEO Shane Brown and Anne Alexander.

The session recordings will be available for 30 days after the conference. POST, CPE, and PTSB credits are offered, even if the recorded session is viewed instead of attended live. To register for credits or to register to view the conference sessions, contact us at info@cyberwyoming.org or visit https://cyberwyoming.org/conference/

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