by Patrick Wolfinbarger, Co-Founder of the CyberWyoming Alliance
LARAMIE –The CyberWyoming Alliance is the recipient of a $100,000 Confidence in Data Care Grant announced today by the Gula Tech Foundation.
A non-profit, the CyberWyoming Alliance’s mission is to support cybersecurity awareness, education and outreach programs for Wyoming citizens and the economic communities that surround them.
Seven of eleven finalists, including the CyberWyoming Alliance, received a total of $1 million through the competitive grant program by the Gula Tech Foundation. Confidence in Data Care is the third grant offered by the Gula Tech Foundation. Previous topics include Public Cybersecurity Awareness and Increasing African American Engagement in Cybersecurity.
Non-profits in the Confidence in Data Care finalist line up included CodePath.org, Faith-Based Information Sharing and Analysis Organization, Cyber Bytes Foundation, Year Up, Inc, ICS Village, Pocket Security, Inc, DARK Enterprises, Inc, Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC), CyberUP, SecurEd Inc, and the CyberWyoming Alliance.
The top three winners received $250,000, $200,000, and $150,000 respectively CodePath.org, Teach Cyber, and SecurEd and the four runner ups received $100,000. CyberWyoming Alliance was one of the four runner ups, along with Year Up, ICS Village, and MAGIC.
In the virtual awards ceremony on January 26, Cyndi Gula, Managing Partner of the Gula Tech Foundation, said the CyberWyoming Alliance’s program was “so impressive” and went on to describe it as taking smaller bites and digestible bites to really engage everyone in what cyber is when applying it to data care.
“We are humbled and honored to receive this grant and plan to do a lot of good with it,” said Laura Baker, Board President of the CyberWyoming Alliance.
CyberWyoming Alliance’s winning grant application focused on confidence in data care in Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses, a program run by its sister organization CyberWyoming. Competition statistics were provided in the grant application stating that 86% of the participants didn’t have training in data governance or risk management and 54% didn’t have technical staff or even know who to call for help. The Competition’s purpose is to address these statistics.
“At the beginning of the Competition, 61 percent of participants were either neutral, a little nervous, or not at all confident with the subject of cybersecurity, but at the end all of the participants reported more confidence, with 72 percent reporting feeling very confident on the subject of cybersecurity,” said Baker. Competition participants have more confidence, feel empowered, have more tools in their toolbox, and can actively address their cybersecurity risks.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wyoming only has 40 information security analysts statewide. “So, we all need to be educated on protecting data and our businesses, there just aren’t enough people across the state to help,” said Baker.
The grant plan provides funding to other economic development agencies across the state to promote cyber and data security efforts. “Because we didn’t get the winner’s position, we trying to figure out what that looks like and thinking creatively to still reach all the goals, so agencies across the state need to stay tuned,” said Baker. The grant funds will be available immediate to train and select other economic development agencies in 2022, in order to prepare for the 2023 Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses. An application for the program will be available in March.
“Ultimately, I’d like to see our statewide competition go national. Our vision is to get other states involved and send our winners to the national level,” said Baker.
The competition is free to all Wyoming businesses. It uses the Made Safe in Wyoming® program, a risk and information security program based on national standards, but modified for small businesses in Wyoming.
Registration continues through May 15, but statistically those that enter early have a better chance of winning and can work the project at a more leisurely pace. Judging reports are due August 15, 2022 and participants are judged on the categories of problem solving/innovation, information security, culture/learning, planning, progress, thoroughness, and presentation.
The most coveted prize is speaking at Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Conference as a top winner. In 2022, Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Conference will be included with the University of Wyoming Blockchain Stampede and WyoHackathon in September. Last year, the Stampede attracted 800 in person attendees and 5,000 worldwide electronically.
The competition is free due to community minded companies and organizations including: Campbell County Health, Capitol Communications, Cheyenne State Bank, DigeTekS, EvnTec, Factory IT, First Federal Bank & Trust, First Interstate Bank, Gannett Peak Technical Services, Hub Insurance, IECA, K2 Technologies, PDS (formerly Ptolemy Data Systems), Sweetwater Technology Services, Team Networks, and Wyoming Manufacturing Works. A donation from Microsoft, grant funding from the Department of Workforce services, and collaboration with Casper College’s Cybersecurity program also made the competition possible.
To participate in the competition, business owners or managers should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get a copy of the intent to participate form and make an appointment to discuss how to become cyber secure. CyberWyoming is responsible for monitoring efforts to meet best practices and helping the business owners document their progress. The final step is submitting the documentation to the judges, chosen by local economic development agencies. Information about Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses can be found at www.cyberwyoming.org/competition.