LARAMIE — In its third year, the Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses began Monday and encourages a human-centric approach to cyber leadership in small businesses that don’t have full-time technology help.

Any small Wyoming business can enter the competition and receive free basic cybersecurity business counseling services. Cybersecurity business counseling services help establish a cyber leader in the office who may not be technically inclined, but is provided the tools and support to be successful in protecting the company.

“We have had office specialists, marketing managers and HR managers take the lead on cybersecurity in some offices with great success,” said Laura Baker, executive director of CyberWyoming. “You do not have to be technical at all.”

The competition winners speak at Cyber Leader Awards Banquet on Oct. 6 in Casper and at the Wyoming Cybersecurity Conference on Oct. 7 at Casper College. In addition, winners and participants will be featured in statewide press releases and on CyberWyoming’s website. To enter the competition, email info@cyberwyoming.org or download the application on cyberwyoming.org. Final entries are due to the judges Aug. 31 and CyberWyoming helps participants write up the reports. The judges are recruited via economic development agencies throughout the state and are unknown to CyberWyoming’s staff that helps businesses reach their goals.

“Today’s cyber-criminals are increasingly sophisticated and pose more significant threats to the economy than ever before. New safeguards are needed in order to protect businesses both small and large,” said Greg Pierson, community relations manager of the Northern Colorado and Wyoming Better Business Bureau.

Pierson shared that the BBB has been active in creating cybersecurity risk strategies and sharing them with the Wyoming business community and has been a supporter in the past of Wyoming’s cybersecurity conferences.

Two years ago, Wyoming’s competition garnered national attention from CyberUSA affiliates and last year it was adopted by the US ICT Council of Myanmar, an international economic development agency.

All small businesses, nonprofits and home based businesses are welcome to enter.

While there is no entry fee, participants in the competition should be prepared for possible financial outlays to upgrade software, purchase hardware and purchase cyber-related services from attorneys, insurance agents or IT professionals.

“In last year’s competition, I don’t think any of the small business participants spent over $500 unless you count those business owners that wanted, but didn’t necessarily need, a new laptop,” Baker said.

“Cybersecurity can be inexpensive when you look at it from a leadership standpoint. Business owners lead their team every day so helping them learn to lead their same team in cybersecurity gives them the power to manage their risks.”

In 2019, the participating companies were judged on five general categories: presentation, thoroughness, technical expertise, progress towards goals, and planning. As in previous years, the final cybersecurity reports submitted to the judges will be anonymous.

A strict separation of duties will exist between CyberWyoming, which runs the participants through the process, and the judging committee.

Winners in 2019 were First Northern Bank of Buffalo, Laramie Reproductive Health and Laramie’s Historic Railroad Depot. Winners in 2018 were First Federal Bank & Trust of Sheridan, a small programming shop called Language I/O of Cheyenne, and Wind Hosting of Lander, a home-based web-hosting business.

CyberWyoming is a nonprofit organization that founded the Made Safe in Wyoming Program. The program helps business owners develop and implement best practices to become cyber secure through partnerships with Wyoming technology companies, law firms, insurance companies, education and more.