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Editor’s note: The conference was produced in part by Adams Publishing Group Signature Events for the Wyoming Business Report. APG-SE is owned by Adams Publishing Group, which also owns the Laramie Boomerang among other regional newspapers.

After extensive upgrades to their cybersecurity infrastructures, two Laramie nonprofits were awarded second place at CyberWyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses in October.

Judges awarded second place as a tie split between the Laramie Historic Railroad Depot and the Laramie Reproductive Health Clinic.

The competition encourages Wyoming small businesses to implement cybersecurity best practices through a program called Made Safe in Wyoming. The winners were announced on Oct. 23 during the Wyoming Cybersecurity Symposium in Cheyenne.

More than just upgrading physical infrastructure and changing passwords, CyberWyoming also encourages participants to think about company policies, insurance coverage and training exercises to recognize potential cyber-attacks.

Participants were judged in five general categories: presentation, thoroughness, technical expertise, planning and most improved.

Upon first entering the competition in 2018, the railroad depot failed to fully qualify because all the changes weren’t quite implemented yet. The hiccup last year didn’t stop the depot from continuing its upgrades and competing again this year. though.

“We still wanted to show the progress that we’ve made on the cybersecurity improvements we’ve made at the depot,” Charles Van Heule, railroad depot board member and rental coordinator, told the Boomerang Monday. “So, we went ahead and competed again — no harm in trying, right?”

In the last year and a half, the historic depot started offering Wi-Fi in the building, livestream webcams of passing trains, a new website and the ability to process credit and debit card payments for depot building rentals for events, workshops or weddings.

“Once we joined the future, we realized there were a lot of things we needed to be able to protect — ourselves and our rental clients,” Van Heule said.

The depot’s upgrades included obtaining cyber-liability insurance, upgrading the infrastructure of the wireless system, new computer security education for the depot’s board of directors and more.

“Mostly we wanted to be able to say, ‘Hey, look, we didn’t just give you Wi-Fi, but we protected it as well,’” Van Heule said. “That’s why we chose to compete.”

Also earning second place was the LRHC, a reproductive health and family planning clinic that offers a sliding pay scale.

Cybersecurity is important for the clinic since it must comply with patient privacy laws and Title X, which mandates family planning care for low-income citizens.

The clinic already had an IT company it uses for its firewall, server and other infrastructure, so executive director Matthew Miller said in a CyberWyoming news release he was “initially confused and hesitant” about joining the competition.

By going through the program, the news release said, Miller realized that “cybersecurity is much more than spending money on equipment” and instead includes putting policies in place in case of a cyber-attack, making sure staff is trained to recognize symptoms of compromise and making sure employee training and system upgrade schedules are up to date.

Although the competition judged strategies implemented in small businesses around the state, Van Heule said he’s started implementing what’s he’s learned at home, too.

“It was eye-opening for me to see what all is out there,” he said.

More information about CyberWyoming can be found at www.cyberwyoming.org.

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