Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition Offered Again for Small Businesses in 2021

LARAMIE –  Celebrating its fourth year, the Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses is beginning on Feb 1 and encourages a human-centric approach to cyber leadership in small businesses that don’t have full time technology help.

Any small Wyoming business can enter the competition and receive free basic cybersecurity business counseling services. Cybersecurity business counseling services help establish a cyber leader in the officewho may not be technically inclined, but is provided the tools and support to be successful in protecting the company.  “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 October 6-8.  In addition, winners and participants will be featured in statewide press releases and on CyberWyoming’s website. To enter the competition, email info@cyberwyoming.org or download the application on www.cyberwyoming.org’s website.  Final entries are due to the judges on August 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.

Three years ago, Wyoming’s competition garnered national attention from CyberUSA affiliates and two years ago it was adopted by the US ICT Council of Myanmar, an international economic development agency.  “It is really exciting to have our ideas used elsewhere in the world,” Baker said.

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.”

 “By encouraging businesses to adopt improved cyber hygiene and best practices, the Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition is leading the way in keeping its community safe,” said David Powell, CEO of the Federal Business Council and VP of CyberUSA. Other CyberUSA communities are sure to learn from this innovation.”

In 2020, the participating companies were judged on five general categories:  presentation, thoroughness, technical expertise, progress towards goals, and planning.  As in previous years, the final cybersecurity reports submitted to the judges will be anonymous. A strict separation of duties will exist between CyberWyoming, which runs the participants through the process, and the judging committee. 

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.

“I was not experienced or technologically very savvy,” Kelly Hahn of Wyoming Roofing LLC said. “I was in and out of technology. But I was definitely not current. And Laura just let me know that was okay and that we would get there together and work on it. And that we could tailor it to what our company needs.”

“The opportunity that we found was unparalleled for an institution of our means and scale,” Brian Briggs of the Old West Museum said. “We would not have thought this possible a year ago and the strides in advancements we’ve made have not only added to the capability of the institution, but really changed the projected course of the institution. The staff members here have a new appreciation and a comfort level with security that they have not felt before.”

Baker said that overall, the competition achieved its goal to make participants feel “empowered.”

A final survey of those tasked with cyber leadership for their small business in the competition, said they: 

  • Feel more confident managing their business security risks
  • Feel they have an improved product or service for their customers or stakeholders.
  • Have created relationships to support their ongoing cybersecurity efforts.
  • Can maintain their cybersecurity program going forward.
  • Achieved their security goals.
  • Feel others will recognize their effort.

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 info@cyberwyoming.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 2020 competition was free to small businesses due to Wyoming sponsors.  Those companies include Team Networks (Casper), Campbell County Health (Gillette), IECA (Casper), Ptolemy Data Systems (Sheridan) Sweetwater Technology Services (Rock Springs), EvnTec (Evanston), DigeTekS (Casper & Buffalo), First Federal Bank & Trust (Sheridan), Cheyenne State Bank (Cheyenne), Wyoming Financial Insurance (Rock Springs), and Lunavi (formerly Green House Data, Cheyenne).

“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.


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