Sheridan, WY Creating Grassroots Cyber Awareness Community

Local Companies Help Lead the Effort

SHERIDAN – Sheridan is becoming a small micro-community of cybersecurity and technology resources within the State of Wyoming with local companies like First Federal Bank and Trust and Ptolemy Data Systems leading the way.

Both companies have joined an initiative called Made Safe in Wyoming©, a program administered by the nonprofit CyberWyoming, to advance the security of their economic community through information sharing of cyber threats and mentoring small businesses owners to meet cybersecurity best practices. 

“I think there is a general lack of awareness issue with regard to cyber threats,”  said Scott Rendall, Director of Sheridan Wyoming Technology Business Center. “Increasing awareness will lead to more action taken towards being cyber secure.”

“We recognize that the rural nature of our Wyoming communities does not protect us from cybersecurity threats,” said Tyler Neeriemer, IT Administrator for First Federal Bank & Trust.   “Unfortunately, cybersecurity issues tend to be overlooked or ignored because they are seen as too complex or daunting to tackle.  Our goal is to demystify cybersecurity and show to address the threat,” “Our community has tremendous IT and cybersecurity people that can be resources to the community.  When we leverage that, we can do great things to protect Sheridan.”

First Federal Bank & Trust recently won the 2018 Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses, sponsored by the Wyoming Business Report and CyberWyoming.  As part of that process, First Federal’s Neeriemer saw a real need for mentoring other business owners in the community.  He began discussions with CyberWyoming, the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce, and Ptolemy Data Systems to determine how to proceed.  First Federal’s initial step was to become a sponsor of the Made Safe in Wyoming© Program.

The community cybersecurity awareness project is kicking off with the May 23 Ignite Conference in Sheridan, sponsored by the Sheridan Chamber of Commerce.  Both First Federal Bank & Trust and Ptolemy Data Systems are presenters to provide tools, knowledge, and expertise to small businesses in the Sheridan area.

“During the Ignite Conference, our presentation focuses on strong and simple solutions for business owners; things you can take back to the office and do today as well as longer term cyber risk management  advice,” said Jesus Rios, CEO of Ptolemy Data Systems.

“We have a great opportunity to provide some education for local business leaders at the Chamber’s Ignite Conference,” said Neeriemer. “We’re excited to help our audience get inside the mind of a hacker and then use this knowledge to help them develop practical strategies to protect their business.  Our goal is for each attendee to leave the presentation with something that they can apply as soon as they return to work.”

“First Federal Bank & Trust is a longtime leader in our community, and their sponsorship of the Made Safe in Wyoming program shows their continued commitment to leading the way to a strong business environment in the Sheridan area,” said Dixie Johnson, CEO of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.  “By joining with the current Made Safe in Wyoming sponsors such as Sheridan’s Ptolemy Data Systems, First Federal is helping all of Wyoming’s small businesses have access to resources that enable them to be more cyber secure. We look forward to working with them to assist other small businesses in our community improve their cybersecurity,”

However Neeriemer’s and First Federal Bank & Trust’s community ambitions don’t stop with sponsoring the Made Safe in Wyoming© Program.

At the Wyoming Cybersecurity Symposium last October, Neeriemer said community networking is essential.

“The businesses in our communities face similar threats and many don’t have plans to recover from a cybersecurity event, Neeriemer said. “At the best, recovery will come at additional expense and distraction from their primary duties.  With the added pressures of regulations like Europe’s General Data Protection Act, and various states exploring new privacy laws, the fines could put a small business out of business.  Industry and customer requirements are also starting to make it important for businesses to ramp up their cybersecurity (PCI, Insurance, Customers, etc.)”

He added, “I think we have a responsibility to help.”

Creating a cybersecurity community was a grass roots idea formed by First Federal Bank & Trust and CyberWyoming, with Ptolemy Data Systems enthusiastically joining the conversation after the initial concept was discussed. The purpose of the committee is to allow small business owners to ask cyber related questions on a routine basis, point out resources that are available to business, and translate the world of IT so they can lead their company in managing cyber risks.

IT Professionals in Sheridan are now being recruited to volunteer 1 hour a month to attend the committee and answer any questions that the Sheridan business community may have, from “what is considered good antivirus software” to “where can I find someone to configure my firewall?”  To volunteer, please contact info@cyberwyoming.org. Once the committee is fully formed, the format and schedule will be determined and published for Sheridan business owners to access.

“Small businesses of under 7 employees are often overlooked by some technology companies because they may only have 2-3 computers and just need the basics,” said Laura Baker Executive Director of CyberWyoming.  “Nationally, CyberUSA has taught us that building a community focused on communications about cyber threats and sharing information is really effective and the Made Safe in Wyoming© program matches resources with these underserved businesses.”

“The cybersecurity checklist process made me think about the things I can do to secure my business as a business owner, not as an IT professional, and after the meeting, I felt that I had a good grasp of what needed to be done,” said Charlie Powers of Powers Land Brokerage in Sheridan. “It will be great to have a committee where I can ask questions and follow up on any issues.”

The Made Safe in Wyoming© program walks small business owners through a cybersecurity checklist process to help them meet cybersecurity best practices and its parent organization, CyberWyoming, managed the 2018 Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses.

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