First Day of Cybersecurity Conference Focused on Misinformation

by Laura Baker, CyberWyoming Alliance Board President

Misinformation, disinformation and malinformation were the topics discussed today at Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Conference, a different take from most cybersecurity and technology conferences.

The day started with a recorded message from Governor Mark Gordon, discussing online fraud and internet related statistics affecting Wyoming citizens, especially seniors. Mikki Munson, Critical Infrastructure Program Manager from the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, finished the session outlining WOHS’s involvement in protecting critical infrastructure and response if there is an incident.

One of the highest attended sessions was Healthcare Costs: Myths and Realities in Wyoming, featuring Senate Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss, Josh Hannes of the Wyoming Hospital Association, Nick Reynolds formerly of WyoFile, and Dr. Larry Kirven retired WWAMI Executive Director. Moderator Jeff Garrelts read statements about Wyoming’s healthcare system and the panel discussed their accuracy.

Wyoming’s Healthcare Myths:

  1. Healthcare technology will lead to better healthcare for Wyoming citizens. GRAY AREA.  It increases costs, for sure, but may not necessarily lead to better healthcare.
  2. People will get their healthcare anyway, even if they don’t have insurance. TRUE in part, but only emergency services not chemotherapy or diabetes management.
  3. Wyoming healthcare costs are higher than the rest of the country.  TRUE
  4. I’ll get better healthcare if I leave the state. FALSE, we have great providers here.
  5. Liability insurance and tort laws are leading to higher costs of healthcare in Wyoming. FALSE
  6. There are hospitals out there that hate Medicaid expansion. FALSE
  7. There are states out there that wish they had not expanded Medicaid and now can’t get out. FALSE
  8. It is socialized medicine!  ANSWER: The use of the word ‘socialized medicine’ isn’t accurate and is a misrepresentation of the issue, when it comes to Medicaid expansion.  The reality is that some social programs reduce costs, it is similar to Medicare and the overhead is 3-5%, but for profit insurance companies is much higher.   When you use inflammatory words, then you don’t solve the problem.  France & Germany have less than 12% GDP for everyone to get healthcare, yet the US is 17% of GDP and we don’t even cover everyone.  Healthcare isn’t simple, so simple messages are not the answer.  We need to focus on what works to do better.

A panel of Wyoming journalists, including Jake Goodrick, Jennifer Kocher, and Nick Reynolds, discussed Fake News at Home and the QAnon theory that Wyoming doesn’t exist. To round out local representation, Ryan Johnson of Frontier Asset Management and Corporal Doug Sanders of Sheridan County’s Sheriff’s Office discussed misinformation in their community, affect businesses and citizens. At one point, Sanders discussed the grandparents scam and Johnson mentioned that his grandparents had experienced a similar scam, naming Johnson as the grandson in trouble.

National issues were also represented at the conference. Ryan Garfinkel, DHS Center for Prevention Programs & Partnerships, and Marcus Senninger, CISA’s Misinformation, Disinformation, & Malinformation Team, partnered to discuss Mis, Dis, and Mal-information and the Nexus to Targeted Violence. Gregory White from the University of Texas San Antonio CIAS-ISAO group discussed how to be personally discerning to combat mis information and how that leads to buildling stronger communities. Finally Nick Belanger from AON Cyber Solutions discussed how bots spread misinformation on social media.

Thursday’s theme focuses on civic responsibilities and threat responses at the local, state, and national level. The host of the day is Dr. Jean Garrison, Director of the Malcolm Wallop Civics Engagement Program.

The CyberWyoming Alliance almost hit the record for registrations for Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Conference 2021. The record was 135 and today’s sessions started with 134. With two days left, registration is still open.

To register for the conference, visit https://cyberwyoming.org/conference.

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