Summit pulls cyber into view


Local business owners will have the chance to learn more about the burgeoning cybersecurity industry — as well as state and local efforts to consolidate national cybersecurity efforts in the city — at the first Pikes Peak Regional Cyber Summit scheduled for March 15 at The Antlers hotel in downtown Colorado Springs.

Sessions about local cybersecurity developments, challenges and real-world network attacks will be led by experts from local cybersecurity company root9B, educational center Catalyst Campus, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Colorado Springs cyber arena includes defense and commercial cyber companies, cyber concerns in the financial and health care sectors, as well as data center cybersecurity capabilities, said Andy Merritt, chief defense industry officer for the Regional Business Alliance.

“This summit will be very locally focused,” Merritt said. “All these cyber developments are happening around town, but the players don’t know each other — so we want to bring them together. There’s a lot more going on in Colorado Springs then we even realize.”

Events like the summit spark conversations that lead to new ideas, relationships and contracts, Merritt said.

“That happens by people getting to know each other and realizing, ‘Wow, I didn’t know there was a company in town that does that, that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, and I have the same problem. Let’s connect and figure out a solution together,’ ” he said.

The intent of the summit is to also raise awareness across the community, according to Merritt.

“It will include more information on degree programs and answering questions like, ‘What are the workforce challenges Colorado Springs faces on a cyber front?’” Merritt said.

Summit speakers

Jim Solti, chief scientist at the Air Force Academy will speak about the Air Force Cyber Innovation Center; UCCS Vice Chancellor Martin Wood and Colorado Technology Association Director Erik Mitisek will talk about the National Cyber Intelligence Center; The O’Neil Group CEO Kevin O’Neil and Braxton Technologies CEO Frank Backes will discuss the cybersecurity lab at Catalyst Campus; Imprimis President and Cofounder Mike Semmens will talk about Western Cyber Exchange initiatives.

“We constantly receive calls from people in town and companies looking at Colorado Springs that want to know more after reading on these centers,” Merritt said. “They want more details but don’t know who to call and hopefully [they] will after this event.”

“We’re going to have Q&A around everything because that’s what needs to happen,” Merritt said. “We hope the conversations are very much two-way and that we can identify shortfalls and gaps in our community.

“Industry folks can talk to representatives and say, ‘That’s great but what I really need is this, and how can I get it?’”

Attendees will participate in scenarios led by DHS, talking through real and recent cyber attacks, such as the “Ransomware” attack in California, where hackers took control of the medical records at a large Los Angeles hospital and forced the company to pay 40 bitcoins — or about $17,000 — for their records to be returned and not sold on the dark web.

“It involves putting malware on different devices,” Merritt said. “We hope to dig deeper on, ‘How does that play out in our community? What does that mean to businesses? What does that mean to employees? And who is liable?’”

Alex Krielein, chief technology officer and managing partner for SecureSet, will participate on the workforce panel, discussing cybersecurity workforce development.

“Certifications are good to have because employers want to see them on a resumé, some contracts require them and they indicate a skill,” he said.

SecureSet’s plans

SecureSet is a Denver-based company that began in 2014 and offers a cybersecurity education program. According to Krielein, the company is interested in expanding to Colorado Springs, serving transitioning military members and companies in need of talented and capable technical professionals.

“We hope to create a presence in Colorado Springs this year,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to hearing more on the community’s needs at the summit and talking to them about what our company is doing. We want to identify business drivers and understand the community in Colorado Springs. I’m not hoping to get up on stage and talk, rather have a conversation.”

The summit is not a technical symposium, instead it’s a broad introduction to cybersecurity for the entire community.

“People shouldn’t walk out of the summit and expect to have all the answers,” Merritt said. “What they should expect is that they’ve had an opportunity to contribute to the discussion that this community should be having to learn more on who to go to for their interests and to foster connections.”

The cost is $75 per person and includes lunch and access to all the sessions. For more information, call 471-8183 or email