In 1914, houses didn’t have central air conditioning; most people didn’t have cars, and routine air travel was still a thing of the future.

And under certain cybersecurity scenarios, the right kind of attack could knock the nation right back to 1914. Electrical grids could go dark; long-distance communication would be impossible. Thanks to the Internet of Things, most modern-day cars wouldn’t run and travel by plane could be impossible. We’d lose touch with satellites for communication and most business activities would grind to a halt.

That’s the scenario that retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus will talk about with Gov. John Hickenlooper at the National Cyber Symposium Nov. 1-3 at The Broadmoor hotel.

Sponsored by the state’s National Cybersecurity Center and local security accelerator Exponential Impact, the three-day summit features Petraeus and a cast of national and international experts in cybersecurity. Petraeus will speak at the first night of the conference. On the second night, Israeli cybersecurity strategist Menny Barzilay will speak. Barzilay is an adviser and consultant in cybersecurity and innovation. He’s a member of the Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security Senior Forum at Tel-Aviv University. He’s a former cyber expert in the Israeli defense forces and was the head of the IT audit department at Bank Hapoalim Group.

The goal of the symposium is to answer questions about cybersecurity, blockchain technology (see story, pages 4-5) and current threats and to discuss the best strategies and solutions for keeping networks safe from cyber criminals.

The event is the first of its kind for the NCC, just finishing up a year in operation here. Its new interim CEO, Vance Brown, will speak at a panel discussion about blockchain technology and its potential to change financial transactions via Bitcoin and other internet currencies.

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The star-studded cyber event seems packed with information for business owners: the need for a healthy startup and innovation ecosystem in a city, cybersecurity’s human element, and information from Colorado’s Secretary of Technology and Chief Information Officer Suma Nallapati.

It’s a big deal to have these kinds of internationally recognized faces in Colorado Springs, and with the support of the business community, it will put the city on the radar of multinational cybersecurity companies, startups, venture capitalists and angel investors, all wanting a piece of the cybersecurity industry.

And that kind of expertise doesn’t come cheaply: The NCC event will cost $1,500 for all three days, including two nights’ lodging at The Broadmoor. For individual keynote speeches, it’s $300 each night. And for Friday morning’s breakfast and wrap-up session, the cost is $50.

But the hefty price tag shouldn’t scare people away. This is the NCC’s largest fundraiser for the year, and is a vital part of its success. It’s also an opportunity for the Springs business community to show the rest of the state that it really is the cybersecurity capital of the state — and the nation.

Businesses can learn: What IS blockchain after all? Do you know how to use Bitcoins? How will both change the face of international trade and finance?

Are you certain your employees understand the risks of clicking on links in emails and can recognize phishing attempts? Do you know what it will cost in time, lost productivity and damage to your business reputation if they fail to understand the risks?

Does your business need to know the current threats to its networks? Are you prepared if someone holds your data hostage?

The symposium will answer those questions, and teach business leaders how to prepare for the worst — and prevent it from happening.

The NCC’s national symposium is huge for Colorado Springs. While we love our Olympic City USA moniker, we can and should be known for our high concentration of cybersecurity, technology and IT firms. This is the first step in developing a national reputation for innovation, cybersecurity and entrepreneurism. Let’s make sure we support the event and live up to that potential. n CSBJ


  1. Another very good piece on the growing cybersecurity industry in this region. As an active member of the local ISSA chapter and very interested in our startup environment, we should continue to expand and expose the quiet talents we have.

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