Cyber security workshop: More education is the best defense against threats

A workshop Monday morning was held to educate entrepreneurs and small business owners on best practices to defend themselves against cyber security attacks.

The cyber security workshop featured small group work, presentations and resources for business owners and entrepreneurs. Representatives from the FBI, FTC, state and federal agencies presented plus Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The four-hour workshop was held inside the student activity center on the Ankeny campus of Des Moines Area Community College.

Hannah Whitehouse works at the Linn County Auditors Office and said she attended the workshop because of a cyber attack that happened in their office last year.

“We ended up accidentally sending out the last four digits of voters social security numbers,” Whitehouse said. “So I think that partly inspired our department to consider what our protocols are.”

Bruce Wilson of Urban Dreams said he needed to learn more about cyber security because of HIPPA restrictions.

“I’m here to pay attention and see about the applicability on a micro level as much as anything,” Wilson said. “Probably the biggest concern is stuff can just walk out the door very easily. I think about that a lot as I picture all the flash drives I have in my office. I’m hear to pay attention and see about the applicability on a micro-level as much as anything.”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds speaks Monday morning during the Cyber Security Workshop at DMACC.

Reynolds kicked off the workshop with a ten-minute speech focusing on understanding Iowa’s strategy for cyber security, building a cyber security work force pipeline and how to train Iowans.

She said cyber security will be vital to the success of her, “Future Ready Iowa” initiative, a plan to make sure Iowans have some sort of training or education past high school by 2025.

“We must increase awareness about cyber threats and how to address them,” Reynolds said. “Cyber threats can disrupt the lives of family members, friends, local communities and individuals outside of our daily interactions.”

Reynolds said the state has lowered Iowa’s vulnerability risk of cyber attacks by 41 percent through proactive management efforts.

Todd Kossow is the Midwest Region Director for the Federal Trade Commission and said his department promotes education to help combat cyber security threats.

“For businesses,you all have worked so hard to build, a data breach can have serious financial and reputational consequences,” Kossow said. “So it’s also in your interest and your customer interest that your data be secure.”

Kossow said business owners can visit for resources to help business owners stay ahead of the latest scams, reduce the risk of cyber threats and respond in case of a data breach.

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