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Minnesota Leaders Gather for Summit on Cyber Security

PHOTO: CREDIT: Idaho National Laboratory
PHOTO: CREDIT: Idaho National Laboratory
October 21, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS - Hundreds of Minnesota leaders from academia, business, government and the non-profit sector are gathering this week to share notes on the cyber threats they face and how to manage the risks. The 2013 Cyber Security Summit is being sponsored by the Better Business Bureau.

According to Bureau spokesman Dan Hendrickson, this really is an issue that requires a statewide solution.

"It's not an educational problem. It's not a business problem. It's not a government problem. It's everyone's problem," he declared. "So the goal with this summit is to bring the best brains together to talk about cyber-security, look at trends, figure what's working and what's not, coming to a point where everyone leaves with, hopefully, some answers and ways they can better improve their security."

The Cyber Security Summit will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

While most agencies, companies, organizations and schools are now aware of the risks in cyberspace and putting systems in place to try to deal with those risks, Hendrickson noted that cyber-criminals also work continually to stay a step ahead.

"These scammers are resourceful. This is what they do. It's their job," he said. "They look for weaknesses, and I think you'll find, even in the best systems, no matter how well designed they are, there's usually a weak point or a soft point they can go after, and it leads to security breaches and data breaches and these are very costly."

While this week's summit has a focus on keeping the data of customers and vendors secure, online security is also an individual issue and, as Hendrickson explained, education must start young.

"Kids these days, under 10 even, have smartphones now, and there are just so many bad places out there and, unfortunately, people who are trying to get information," he warned. "Kids obviously have no idea what their information can be used for."

It's estimated that nearly half of the data breaches in the U.S. last year were from malicious attacks. Human error and systems glitches were responsible for most of the rest.

More information on the meeting is at bit.ly/Hbr4Xj. More information on the cost of cyber-crime is at bit.ly/16kwdsf.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN