(TNS) — Small businesses and individuals are mistaken if they think cyberattacks mostly pose a threat to large companies and organizations, officials from the new Colorado Springs-based National Cybersecurity Center said Tuesday in a visit to Pueblo.
Meanwhile, the selection of Colorado Springs as home for the center opens up opportunities for businesses and schools in Pueblo and the rest of Southern Colorado to get involved in the still-emerging industry, they said.
The nonprofit center, which launched a year ago, focuses on promoting industry startups and expansions, workforce development and public education. It seeks to build on the extensive cybsersecurity work already taking place in Colorado Springs by defense contractors and the military.
Still in its startup phase, the center currently employs three full-time and two part-time staff and is in the process of opening an office at a remodeled former TRW manufacturing plant in Colorado Springs. The state contributed $8 million toward the renovations.
“They’re just getting going. We had a huge symposium in June and will have more,” said Jenifer Furda, the center’s former chief operating office who remains active in promoting its work.
Businesses, schools or individuals interested in learning more can call the center at 719-255-5225 or visit its website at nationalcybersecuritycenter. org, she said.
On Tuesday, Furda and another supporter of the center, Michael Semmens, president of Colorado Springs-based technology consultant Imprimis, traveled to Pueblo to give a free public presentation to area businesses on the latest in cyberthreats and basic security precautions.
About 20 people attended the two-hour workshop at the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library, co-sponsored by the Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center and Ent Business Banking.
“Cyber is the new dirt. Everything in the future is going to be built on it,” said Semmens, who also serves as chair of the National Cyber Exchange, a nonprofit membership group focused on the latest threats, security advances and workforce development strategies.
The ongoing growth in the Internet of Things — such as home security cameras connected to a wireless network, on a small scale; or the data networks that serve entire electrical grids or far-flung corporate offices, on a large scale — keep adding to the potential targets for hackers, he said.
Semmens gave an overview of the latest cybersecurity threats from countries such as China, Russia and North Korea. He also briefly reviewed the large data breaches at businesses such as Home Depot and Target and political groups such as the Democratic National Committee.
While the government plays a key role in preventing cyber attacks, the most effective defense is for individuals to become “cyber citizens” by educating themselves and taking an active role in protecting their computers and data networks, he said.
As for the business community, he called on company leaders to become “cyber executives” by taking the time to learn about the subject and then setting aside the necessary funding and workforce training to adopt recommended security measures.
Furda, in an interview prior to her presentation, said it is vital that small businesses and individual proprietors take the threats seriously.
“There is no business too small to not be a target,” she said.
In fact, small businesses often are the top choice of hackers, she said.
Hackers know that, unlike large companies that devote extensive funding and teams of experts to cybersecurity, small shops are largely on their own, she said. “They are absolutely looking at you because you are the most vulnerable,” she said.
Basic security steps include using password protections, secure networks and data back-up systems, she said.
©2017 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.