Community Cyber: It takes a city of champions

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Imagine waking up one morning and discovering there’s no money in the bank. Picture going to work to learn that every computer on the company network has nothing but a frozen screen and a message demanding a ransom payment within 12 hours. Imagine the Colorado Springs government paralyzed by a severe denial-of-service attack that renders 911 dispatchers and first responder networks completely inoperable. Communication is impossible, and the inability to access the Internet deprives operation commanders of critical information and online coordination tools.

It’s a scenario that national security analysts and IT specialists fear — and work to avoid.

Several years ago, Bob Lally and I brought a speaker from the Department of Homeland Security to Colorado Springs to talk about the need for a community-wide effort to secure cyber networks. His message: Cyber “champions” need to step forward, educating America on the Internet of Things, the reliance on the Internet and computer networks for everything from banking to transportation — and the subsequent threat from cyber criminals. He said it was the greatest threat to the United States since the nuclear era — the growing risk of cyberattacks.

Pikes Peak Cyber Champions and the Colorado Springs Business Journal are partnering to showcase community champions — to present the thoughts and plans of leading cyber officials and to organize activities to establish Colorado Springs as the nation’s cyber center of excellence.

Colorado Springs is the perfect community to provide national leadership in cyber-security at the community level. We are the City for Champions. Mayor John Suthers recognizes the potential and believes in the importance of developing the city’s cyber industry sector.

Through the “It takes a champion” campaign, Pikes Peak Cyber Champions will create a thought leadership forum with the Business Journal featuring the region’s cyber professionals — offering insights into cyber risks, challenges and solutions. The campaign will also develop events and activities aimed at achieving the mayor’s vision.

Leading in the cyber industry is imperative for Colorado Springs, given the existence here of so much critical infrastructure and so many national security facilities.

What is Community Cyber?

Shaping and defining Community Cyber will be critical for achieving success.

The term doesn’t mean cyber defense at the federal or military level, even though Colorado Springs has advanced cyber defenses protecting the nation’s early warning systems (at Cheyenne Mountain Air Base).

It doesn’t equate to a single successful cyber business that obtains federal contracts to service federal interests, although economic development is one of its benefits. Simply put, the concept is a social enterprise that executes a citywide resilience mission at the intersection of government and private interests.

Upcoming articles will inform readers about Community Cyber, and provide more details and actionable ideas.

This first article serves as notice that Pikes Peak Cyber Champions has a vision that provides leadership for Colorado Springs to become the center of the nation’s public-private partnership in cybersecurity. One thing is clear: Colorado Springs has a mission, and that means the right people are here to move this cyber initiative forward.

Colorado Springs is loaded with mission people — those people who are driven by an interest in solving societal problems.

In fact, this city has more people who are mission-oriented than nearly any other community in the United States. It has an abundance of military retirees and a large concentration of nonprofits — all of whom focus on mission before profit.

The city is poised to attract more Millennials with the cyber effort, because studies show that today’s young professionals embrace the social-enterprise business model, which taps into their drive to provide benefit to the community as a whole.

It takes a champion to get started. We’re in the right place, with the right people to move forward. Pikes Peak Cyber Champions and the Colorado Springs Business Journal plan to showcase the cyber champions in the coming weeks.

We will introduce more cyber champions and their views about the possibilities in cybersecurity: Art Glynn, Christopher Gorog and Jane Ginn.

Doug DePeppe is a retired Army cyber law attorney who supported military operations in cyberspace in support of a theater of combat operations. He has two master’s degrees in law. He practices cyber law to reduce risk of cyberattack with eosedge Legal. Email him at doug@eosedgelegal.com.

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