CASPER – Jedidiah Shenefelt runs a one man IT shop in Casper called SuperNerd, saw the 2020 Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses TV ad, and thought “why not?”
He subsequently entered last year’s competition and, although miles ahead with technical know-how, didn’t expect the process’s emphasis on people, culture, and preparing SuperNerd for growth.
“I see the world through a tech lens, yet most of what this process [the competition] covered was practice and it was an eye opener for me,” said Shenefelt.
“Good practices are just as important as tech itself,” said Shenefelt. And Shenefelt wasn’t just talking about teaching his customers about good practices, he turned the camera inward and took a selfie of Super Nerd. For instance, being a one man shop, he developed a disaster recovery plan for Super Nerd so his customers could get support from another IT professional if something happened to Shenefelt.
Now, Shenefelt is turning the camera outward and has volunteered to mentor some of his Casper clients through the competition process.
“Mentoring isn’t about learning a new skill, it’s about understanding that basic knowledge of cybersecurity combined with good habits is vital. For example, a $10,000 network firewall won’t be able to stop your employees from sending their passwords in an email. However, understanding what phishing is, and having good habits about email security is a free solution that will work every time,” said Shenefelt.
Competition registration continues through May, but statistically those that enter early have a better chance of winning and can work the project at a more leisurely pace.
In 2020, Craftco, Wyoming Roofing, and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum were the top three winners and spoke at Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Conference. The participants were a mixture of purchasing agents, HR managers, and curators, and not technical people.
“It’s been an awesome experience,” said Brad Orr of Craftco, “I know where to go if I need help and I’ve learned a ton along the way.”
The 2021 competition is proving to be a larger and broader field of participants than in previous years including small healthcare clinics, construction companies, financial services, yoga studios, and massage therapists.
“We are gratified to see a higher number of participants this year because we added new features to the competition and hired staff,” said Patrick Wolfinbarger, Co-Founder of CyberWyoming.
In 2021, the competition includes working webinars which are 30 minutes of content and 45 minutes of working one on one or in a small group with a mentor to complete a task to take back to their business. Registration for the webinars is at www.cyberwyoming.org/events/
The March 25 webinar features operating system settings that can be used to secure a business. The webinar features Jesse Larson, President of Team Networks in Casper as host, James Drever of the SBDC on the Mac, and Laura Baker of CyberWyoming on Windows. This webinar was sponsored by Microsoft.
Both the webinars and competition are free due to a donation from Microsoft, grant funding from the Department of Workforce services, and sponsorship from First Federal Bank & Trust of Sheridan, Campbell County Health, Wyoming Financial Insurance, EvnTec of Evanston, Sweetwater Technologies of Rock Springs, Factory IT of Jackson, Team Networks of Casper, IECA of Casper, DigeTekS LLC, Ptolemy Data Systems of Sheridan, and Manufacturing Works of Wyoming.
To participate in the competition, business owners or managers should contact email@example.com 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.