CHEYENNE –  Small businesses in Wyoming are encouraged to educate their employees and adopt cyber best practices by participating in the 2019 Wyoming Cybersecurity  Competition.

The winners of last year’s competition included First Federal Bank & Trust of Sheridan, a small programming shop called Language I/O of Cheyenne, and Wind Hosting of Lander, a home-based web-hosting business. 

 “It was a thrill to participate in the … cybersecurity competition. We hope others will follow suit and help make Wyoming a leader in cybersecurity!” said Craig Boal, Director of Software Development at Language I/O.  Boal worked closely with Matt Cook, Software Developer and Data Protection Officer at Language I/O to create policies and secure their intellectual property, physical office, and network.  All winners and participants from last year have expressed a willingness to mentor for the 2019 competition and encourage community business members to participate.

In a continuous effort to motivate Wyoming business owners to become cyber secure, the 2019 Cybersecurity Competition for Small Business was officially announced on February 10th.  The Competition was the brain child of CyberWyoming, formerly Made Safe in Wyoming, and was established through a partnership with the Wyoming Business Report, owned by Adams Publishing Group. 

“We felt it answered [former] Governor Mead’s call in 2017 at the Broadband Summit where he stated that we have to make sure the State is cyber-secure as we get everyone connected,” said Laura Baker, Co-Founder of CyberWyoming.

The competition already has 4 participants and concludes in the fall of 2019 with the annual Adams Publishing Group’s and Wyoming Business Report’s Cybersecurity Symposium. 

The top three businesses win a speaking engagement at the Wyoming Cybersecurity Symposium , the use of the Made Safe in Wyoming logo and marketing materials to show their customers they meet best practices in cybersecurity, recognition statewide via press releases, an article on CyberWyoming’s and the Wyoming Business Report’s website and social media accounts, a promotional video outlining the business’s successful efforts to meet best practices in cybersecurity, and promotional stories in the Wyoming Business Report.  However, all businesses that participate in the competition will be recognized at the Cybersecurity Symposium, on the two websites, and in a statewide press release.

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, I don’t think any of the small business participants spent over $500 unless you count those business owners that wanted, but didn’t necessarily need, a new laptop,” 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.”

Being the first of its kind in the United States, the Competition has gained national attention and may be adopted in other States.  “By encouraging businesses to adopt improved cyber hygiene and best practices, the Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition is leading the way in keeping its community safe.  Other CyberUSA communities are sure to learn from this innovation,” said David Powell, CEO of the Federal business Council and VP of CyberUSA.

In 2018, the participating companies were judged on four general categories:  1. Presentation, 2. Thoroughness, 3. Technical expertise, and 4. Planning.

In 2019, a fifth category will be added called “Starting Point to Finish Point,” which will help rank some of the smaller companies that started with almost nothing in their cybersecurity landscape.  As in 2018, the final cybersecurity company reports submitted to the judges will be anonymous and a strict separation of duties will exist between CyberWyoming, which runs the companies through the process, and the judging committee. 

To participate in the competition, business owners or managers should contact info@cyberwyoming.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 Adams Publishing Group staff.

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.  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,” said Patrick Wolfinbarger, Co-Founder of CyberWyoming.  “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.”

The Wyoming Business Report is Wyoming’s first and only state-wide business newspaper, founded in 2000. It delivers breaking news, in-depth analysis, research, economic statistics and coverage of key industries, including Wyoming’s cyber landscape.

Adams Publishing Group owns more than 130 newspaper titles in 13 states, including including 20 in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Included among these operations are news, advertising and marketing operations in print, digital and events. “Can you imagine what would happen to Wyoming’s economy if we could prove that our businesses are the most cyber secure State in the nation?  We already have low corporate taxes, a business friendly environment, cutting edge blockchain laws, and the broadband ring – add in a stability, security, and good reputation for all our small business owners and we have an amazing selling point for new commerce in our State,” continued Wolfinbarger.


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