The cyber crime wave is cresting, expected to rise to $6 trillion by 2021.
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Combined efforts from the National Cybersecurity Center and local businesses are now joined by the Air Force Academy’s CyberWorx program — and that benefits everyone.
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With news that a Colorado hotel was hacked — and its electronic doors reset to keep out guests, its cash drawers and credit card transactions held ransom for bitcoins — cybersecurity was once again in the spotlight.
And it occurred just weeks before the annual Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium, held earlier this week at The Broadmoor hotel. The symposium is a meeting of the minds for military, civilian, business and industry cybersecurity professionals — and it’s never come at a more opportune time.
Amid news of Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee and reports about Iran, China and Russia continually probing the United States’ cyber defenses, the nation’s attention is centered on cybersecurity.
It’s no small wonder. Costs to battle the cyber crime wave — from overseas operators stealing national security secrets to hackers holding personal and financial information for ransom — are expected to reach $6 trillion by 2021, as reported by Cybersecurity Ventures.
And Colorado Springs stands to be at the epicenter of the cyber industry. The city houses the National Cybersecurity Center, created to provide rapid response, workforce development and government training. The Air Force Academy announced at the symposium that its CyberWorx program is operational and ready to join the battle.
CyberWorx is an important step forward for the Academy — it creates an Air Force-level cyber center where cadets and airmen can work with industry and nonprofits to explore ideas, develop prototypes and create new offensive measures to defeat cybercriminals who seek national secrets, intellectual property and illicit financial gain.
Local businesses can get involved with CyberWorx through its partnership with the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization. The organizations are seeking companies with expertise in logistics, retail, telecommunications, energy, financial services, emergency management, hospitality, analytics, multinational distribution and ethnography.
Why get involved? Because your business could be the next one singled out by cyberthieves. Do you really want to pay a ransom for your employees’ tax forms? What about protecting donors and their financial information? Thanks to the Internet of Things, we’re all very connected to each other.
CyberWorx provides a path for the military to work hand-in-hand with industry, academia and government agencies to develop a nimble, robust offensive cyber strategy that protects the nation’s networks.
Combined with the statewide focus on the National Cybersecurity Center, efforts at Catalyst Campus and the booming cyber industry in Colorado Springs — more than 80 companies at last count — the Air Force effort creates a cybersecurity hub in Colorado Springs that can compete for time, money and attention with the largest cities in the country.
As the world grows ever more connected — and mobile devices more capable of delivering services wirelessly — a strong cybersecurity plan is of paramount importance for every business. It involves not only research and development through the Academy and C-TRAC; it involves government official training and rapid response at the National Cybersecurity Center; it includes using cyber experts to make sure networks are secure and business staff is trained.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of city, state and Air Force leaders, Colorado Springs won’t be locked out of a growing cyber industry.