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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.

Previous cyber security coverage



Cyber security workshop: More education is the best defense against threats | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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