Second Day of Cybersecurity Conference Focused on Civic Responsibilities

Threat Responses at the Local, State and National Level

By Laura Baker, CyberWyoming Alliance Board President

Civic responsibility and threat responses at the local, state and national level were the topics discussed today at Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Conference, a different take from most cybersecurity and technology conferences.

The day started with Dr. Jean Garrison, University of Wyoming professor in the School of Politics, Public Affairs & International Studies and Director of the Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Program. Garrison discussed the need for ready made civics curricula at the middle and high school levels and how the Wallop Program addresses that need. Although a social studies program, a technology category exists with the realization that technology and cyber attacks have affected communications and the democratic process.

One of the sessions with the most questions discussed Wyoming’s water systems and small municipal threats. Dr. Gregory White from the University of Texas San Antonio and Mark Pepper from the Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems made up the panel with journalist Jennifer Kocher as moderator. Pepper discussed how sometimes smaller municipalities struggle to find technical help and jokingly said “Sometimes they have to call Geek Squad.” He has seen situations where it takes 3 days to get a water system back up and running, even when backups were available, primarily because no technical help was available.

Both White and Pepper were in agreement that elected officials in every small town need to understand how to respond to an incident. White went on to say that mayors and elected officials could be held criminally and civilly liable in the operations of municipal systems. Pepper said “Elected officials get fired for potholes” but they really need to understand the cyber threats to municipal systems. Both advocated for table top exercises in incident response.

Dr. Stephanie Anderson from the University of Wyoming’s School of Polticis, Public Affairs & International Studies discussed Russian cyber attacks across the world. She outlined a chronology of attacks against America and its allies, including shutting down the stock exchange in Estonia. Anderson stated that the attacks were primarily aimed at creating chaos and division and have been very successful.

Jane Ginn a threat analyst from the Cyber Resilience Institute discussed the Colonial Pipeline hack and applied the STIX 2.1 threat hunting model to the case study, continuing on with the international threat actors theme.

Getting local, Steve Gemperle of Magnet Forensics gave a presentation geared towards local law enforcement officers with tips and traps for securing the digital scene. Continuing with the local theme, Scams Wyoming Law Enforcement Sees was hosted by Stacey Wright from the Cybercrime Support Network. Wright first called for a moment of silence for the Casper Police Department in their time of mourning, then offered the stage to Hot Spings County Deputy Casey Freud, Cheyenne PD’s Detective Aaron Willmarth, Amy Pauli from the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, and Liz Buser from AARP. The final local discussion was about CMMC, Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, a unifying standard and new certification model to ensure that Department of Defense contractors protect the supply chain. This discussion was presented by Tom Herdt of Capitol Communications and Carl Benvento of Cyberstone.

Friday’s theme is “Cybersecurity is Everyone’s Responsibility” and includes the subject of cyberpsychology, business topics, UW’s digital pillars explained, and nonfungible tokens.

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The videos will be available to all registrants for 30 days after the conference, so register today to gain access.


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