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Florida Steps Up Cybersecurity Education Efforts

By: Ron Frechette, The Cyber Coach

The State of Florida took a major step to provide Florida business owners with the most updated information on the urgent need to recognize and respond to the ever-increasing cyber breach threats. The second annual Florida Cybersecurity Forum 2020 was held September 16-17. The theme of the Forum was how to help small-midsize businesses become secure and compliant. Businesses need to know how to protect the individual, national, and international interests of the United States.

This virtual event was made possible thanks to a collaborative partnership between the Foundation of Associated Industries of Florida (FAIF); the Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI); the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO); FloridaMakes; and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Economic Adjustment. The Foundation of Associated Industries of Florida (FAIF) is a great resource for help in beginning the cybersecurity education journey and securing your business for the future.

Over 700 attendees from a wide variety of industries across Florida were educated by some of the foremost cybersecurity thought leaders from both public and private sectors. These dedicated cyber warriors serve on the front lines daily and provided a crystal clear view of the current threat landscape as well as the threats expected in the future.  They also armed attendees with the latest best security practices to mitigate the risks of experiencing a cyber breach and remain competitive in today’s Digital Age.  To say it was a spectacular event, especially for small and midsize businesses, is an understatement.

Day One Highlights – FL Lawmakers Sound Off

The Forum kicked off with “The Long View on Cybersecurity.”  This session was focused on the increasing frequency, dangers, and complexity of cyber-attacks and provided perspectives of how companies can leverage solutions like artificial intelligence and machine learning to protect their companies.  Distinguished panelists included Major General Joseph Brendler (U.S. Army Retired), former chief of staff, U.S. Cyber Command;  Bob Lentz, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Cyber, Identity and Information Assurance (CIIA); and Bill Sweeney, a distinguished security engineer with Comcast.

“The Legal and Personal Financial Risks of Cyber Breaches” provided case law updates on legal liabilities assumed by a company when a security breach occurs because of subcontractors or third party vendors.  There was a rigorous debate on whose insurance pays for the damages. Panelists included Commissioner David Altmaier, who leads the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation; Michelle Chia, head of professional liability and cyber at Zurich North America; and Robert A. Stines, a partner in the Tampa, Florida, office of Freeborn & Peters, LLP.

Senator Marco Rubio was the keynote speaker and delivered a compelling overview of the national risks associated with cyber breaches from nation-state actors like China, North Korea, and Iran. He shared how they are infiltrating smaller businesses to embezzle IP and their current efforts to steal top-secret information from the Defense Industrial Base (DIB).

Congressman Michael Waltz (FL District 6) and Florida’s CFO, Jimmy Patronis, also made special appearances covering everything from the challenges small businesses face to secure their data, to how cyber criminals are succeeding in insurance fraud scams and the risks it poses to Florida’s financial infrastructure.

The final session focused on “Cybersecurity and the Space Industry.” This was a fascinating discussion that covered the significance for increased cybersecurity in space and the space industry. Distinguished panelists included Frank DiBello, Space Florida president & CEO; and Vice Admiral John McConnell (U.S. Navy Retired), the former director of the National Security Agency & executive director of Cyber Florida at USF.

Day Two Highlights – Get Ready for CMMC

Day two was dedicated exclusively to the new federally-mandated Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Program, set to become effective in 2021 for companies who do business with the DoD. Katie Arrington, CISO to the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, was the keynote speaker and explained the overall intent of the new standards. The intent of the CMMC is to combine various current cybersecurity standards into one unified standard. The CMMC will also measure the maturity of a company’s cybersecurity practices through independent audit firms. Federal prime and subcontractors must comply with CMMC to participate in any future DoD contracts.

Until next month, wishing you a safe journey in cyber space!

Questions?  Email me at [email protected] or send me a tweet @GoldskyRon.



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