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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard members share ideas at 2015 Cyber Security Summit

Cyber conference BROOKLYN PARK, Minn - At a convention center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, leaders in the field of cyber-security gathered for a two-day event to share ideas on cutting-edge ways to safeguard infrastructure and online interests at the 5th Annual Cyber Security Summit, Oct 20, 2015

As cyber threats have become more prevalent in today's society, champions in the field of cyber security are afforded the opportunity to get together to present ways in which organizations can become better at thwarting these threats

"Five years ago I was approached by the University of Minnesota's department of Technological leadership to create an event that would heighten the awareness of cyber-security as they had forecasted that it would someday soon become a household name - and it has," said Eileen Manning, executive producer of the Cyber Security Summit and president of Event Group incorporated in Minneapolis

According to the Summit's team that brought everyone together, their mission is to establish a multi-stakeholder consortium that brings together industry, government and academic interests in an effort to improve the state of cyber security on both a domestic and international level

One of the visionaries that brought this together was Dr Massoud Amin, the Director of Technological leadership at the University of Minnesota, who has been at the forefront of cyber awareness in securing energy grid systems found in public utilities Amin was the one who approached Ms Manning and her company five years ago to put together what has now become the Cyber Security Summit

This year's event focused on small-to medium-sized companies looking to bolster their online security measures and how they can implement best-practice examples from industry leaders into their own organizations

"One of the reasons why Minnesota is such a great destination for this summit is that it hosts the highest Fortune 500 company, corporate headquarters per-capita ratio than any other state in the US," said Andrew Borene, chairman of the Cyber Security Summit and manager of the federal business division of IBM's Safer Planet program in Herndon, VA

Although the unfortunate reality is that even the largest companies can fall prey to these attacks, as has been seen in recent news, these negative events create building blocks used to better protect system security in the future

"Today's cyber front is reminiscent of battlefield management in that it will take a massive amount of strategically-placed, reliable sensors that detect cyber threats to counter attacks to our systems," said Amin "Situational awareness that our colleagues with the Minnesota National Guard are very familiar with, along with experts in the field who decipher this information, are turning these actionable events into intelligence which will be used in the way ahead"

The simple fact that nearly everything is connected in this day and age is exactly why Minnesota Guardsmen were in attendance not only to learn, but also to share what they know

"We recognize that there is not a single segment of our society in Minnesota that will not be affected by a cyber incident and the ensuing consequences," said Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, during his speech at the event "Cyber Security is a matter of public safety and that is why it's a priority of the Soldiers and Airmen of the Minnesota National Guard"

The Minnesota National Guard's Chief Information Officer, Col Stephanie Horvath, presented as a keynote speaker on the topic of critical security controls to reduce cyber risk Horvath also holds a chair on the Cyber Security Advisory Board and ensures that she not only shares what the Minnesota National Guard and Department of Defense does to ensure its security, but brings back in consideration what others in the field are doing to protect theirs

"It has been an excellent experience to interact with the other Cyber Security Advisory Board members; not only are they a group of very smart people, they are very dedicated," said Horvath "Through that group we've collaborated on several other cyber initiatives including developing a response for Council of Governors/National Governors Association on cyber information sharing and conducting combined cyber security training with U of M Technological Leadership Institute for the Croatian Armed Forces"

October 27, 2015
by Tech Sgt Paul Santikko
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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