Keep Young Tech Talent in Wyoming
LARAMIE – Celebrating its fourth year starting on Feb 1, the free Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses is killing two birds with one stone by offering Cybersecurity Business Counselor training to an intern while also helping small businesses identify their security risks.
This internship has been made available in part by a Workforce Development Training Fund Internship Grant through the Department of Workforce Services.
Cooper Eaton of Pinedale was selected from a very competitive pool of applications from Casper College, Gillette College, Sheridan College and UW. The internship focuses on building knowledge, skills, and abilities in a small business IT auditor role. The hope is twofold: 1. to keep cybersecurity talent in Wyoming by involving local economic development agencies who may want to hire the trained intern to increase cyber awareness in their business community and 2. that the intern will be interested in gaining his IT auditor certification after the project.
Eaton, a University of Wyoming junior majoring in finance, said the experience will be helpful in his ambitions to become an entrepreneur one day.
“I wanted the internship because we live in a world of technology and it is affecting small businesses,” said Eaton.
“Creating a cyber-aware culture at the entrepreneurial stage is critical to managing your security risks over time,” said Laura Baker, Executive Director of CyberWyoming and a Cybersecurity Business Counselor for the competition.
At the end of the internship, CyberWyoming intends to work with local economic development agencies to place the trained intern as a Cybersecurity Business Counselor.
The intern will focus on the 2021 Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses, learning tools, techniques, and project management skills to assist Wyoming companies in performing what essentially becomes an internal security assessment. CyberWyoming will be offering practical on-the-job training, mentoring, and cybersecurity business counseling services to help establish a cyber leader in the officewho may not be technically inclined.
“We have had office specialists, marketing managers, and HR managers take the lead on cybersecurity in some offices with great success,” said Laura Baker, Executive Director of CyberWyoming, “You do not have to be technical at all.”
The competition winners speak at the Wyoming Cybersecurity Conference, tentatively scheduled for Oct 6-8. In addition, winners and participants will be featured in statewide press releases and on CyberWyoming’s website. To enter the competition, email email@example.com or download the application on www.cyberwyoming.org’s website. Final entries are due to the judges on Aug 31 and CyberWyoming helps participants write up the reports. The judges are recruited via economic development agencies throughout the state and are unknown to CyberWyoming’s staff that helps businesses reach their goals.
All small businesses, nonprofits, and home based businesses are welcome to enter. “Our small businesses today are Wyoming’s economic future,” said Baker.
While there is no entry fee, participants in the competition should be prepared for possible financial outlays to upgrade software, purchase hardware, and purchase cyber related services from attorneys, insurance agents, or IT professionals.
“In last year’s competition, one retailer only spent about $60 to upgrade the business’s antivirus software,” said Baker, “Cybersecurity can be inexpensive when you look at it from a leadership standpoint. Business owners lead their team every day so helping them learn to lead their same team in cybersecurity gives them the power to manage their risks.”
Winners in 2020 were Craftco of Sheridan, Wyoming Roofing LLC of Sheridan and Gillette, and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Winners in 2019 were First Northern Bank of Buffalo, Laramie Reproductive Health and Laramie’s Historic Railroad Depot. Winners in 2018 were First Federal Bank & Trust of Sheridan, Language I/O of Cheyenne, and Wind Hosting of Lander.
CyberWyoming is a nonprofit organization that founded the Made Safe in Wyoming Program. The program helps business owners develop and implement best practices to become cyber secure through partnerships with Wyoming technology companies, law firms, insurance companies, education, and more.
“We don’t actually sell hardware or software and we don’t sell insurance or legal services related to cybersecurity,” Baker said. “Since we are a nonprofit organization, we consider ourselves a non-biased third party here to give you tailored advice on the cyber risks you can avoid. Some things you can do in-house and others you may need to consult an expert, but it is a fallacy that it is going to cost more than purchasing home-use equipment at a box store.”
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 cybersecure. 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.
The 2021 competition is free to small businesses due to Wyoming sponsors including 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, and Ptolemy Data Systems of Sheridan. The addition of working webinar sessions is due in part to a donation by the Microsoft TechSpark program.
“We couldn’t run the program without the support of these community minded companies,” said Baker.
Information about Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses can be found at www.cyberwyoming.org/competition.