Cybersecurity Summit comes at the right time

by Don Rodriguez


If the statement “Cybersecurity is the No. 1 priority for the FBI nationally” comes as a surprise, the third annual Cybersecurity Summit should take the mystery out of this revelation.

The statement is not just hype for the May 5 summit that will be presented by the Arizona Technology Council, Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Cyber Threat Response Alliance (ACTRA)/Arizona InfraGard. In fact, one of the event organizers, Frank J. Grimmelmann, president & CEO/intelligence liaison officer of ACTRA, recently returned from a meeting of Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAO) where he learned that the security climate is changing more rapidly. In an executive order, President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security to encourage the development of ISAO. “Attacks are up substantially year over year,” Grimmelmann says.

The summit offers an opportunity for government and business executives to learn about the threats, vulnerabilities and consequences related to data security and privacy matters. The sessions will provide solutions as numerous Council and ACTRA member organizations showcase their available resources, products and services to help protect intellectual property and customer data.

Even in this era of cyber attacks getting widespread media coverage, Grimmelmann still sees less awareness by small businesses. “They’re thinking, ‘why would anyone want to steal my information?’” he says. But small businesses are easy targets for cyber thieves such as social activists who may be angry over what a particular business has done or the industry to which it belongs. “Increasing critical awareness is absolutely essential,” he says. Even larger companies that turn to smaller companies as suppliers should be concerned over what their vendors face. “It begins with the weakest link in the chain,” Grimmelmann says.

ACTRA’s focus is to enable the private sector to respond to the escalating national cyber threat. The group is affiliated with the FBI’s Arizona Infragard Program. Infragard is an association of persons who represent businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the nation.

Grimmelmann serves as the private sector liaison to the Arizona Infragard and is on its advisory board. He understands there are businesses not jumping at the chance to share anything with the federal government. His advice? “Join ACTRA.” When businesses are apprehensive, he says, ACTRA can provide that buffer of anonymity.

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