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Multilingual Customer Support Company Language I/O Among Wyoming Cybersecurity Winners

November 8, 2018

Laura-Craig-Mat-Second-Place.jpegThe winners of the 2018 Cybersecurity Competition for Small Business were announced on October 18 at the Wyoming Business Report’s Cybersecurity Symposium in Laramie. In first place was First Federal Bank and Trust from Sheridan and tied for second place was Language I/O from Cheyenne and Wind Hosting from Lander.

“It must be said that all entries showed a keen understanding of cybersecurity issues and the steps required to maintain cybersecurity for their businesses and customers. If all businesses followed the standards set by any of the competitors, cybersecurity issues in Wyoming would be reduced dramatically,” according to the committee of judges report submitted to the WBR and CyberWyoming.

The Competition was the brain child of CyberWyoming and came into being through a partnership with the Wyoming Business Report.  “We felt it answered Governor Mead’s call last year at the Broadband Summit where he stated that we have to make sure the State is cyber-secure as we get everyone connected,” said Laura Baker, Co-Founder of CyberWyoming.

Being the first of its kind in the United States, the Competition has gained national attention and may be adopted in other States.  “By encouraging businesses to adopt improved cyber hygiene and best practices, the Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition is leading the way in keeping its community safe.  Other CyberUSA communities are sure to learn from this innovation,” said David Powell, CEO of the Federal business Council and VP of CyberUSA. 

The participating companies were judged on four general categories:  1. Presentation, 2. Thoroughness, 3. Technical expertise, and 4. Planning.  The company reports submitted to the judges were anonymous and there was a strict separation of duties from CyberWyoming who ran the companies through the process and the judging committee.

"We were excited to help highlight the great work being done by small Wyoming businesses to become more cyber-secure," said Roger Plothow, president of APG Signature Events, which produced the conference for the Wyoming Business Report. APG-SE is owned by the Adams Publishing Group, which also owns daily newspapers in Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins and Rock Springs.

"What this competition showed is that even small companies can take meaningful steps to protect themselves and their clients from cyber-threats. We look forward to expanding the competition in 2019," Plothow continued.

First place, First Federal Bank and Trust was held to a higher standard because it had more resources than its competitors. However, its entry stood out for thoroughness, awareness of the complexity of cybersecurity issues, and its understanding that basic cybersecurity starts with well-trained employees at all levels.  Also, notable was its aspiration to “move forward as a mentor for other businesses in the community” by creating a “cybersecurity committee or team” in partnership with the local Chamber of Commerce to assist other businesses in Sheridan, according to the First Federal report for the judges.

“Cybersecurity is never a finished product, and we looked to the competition as a way that we could see how we measure up and how we might be able to improve our program.  In going through the process, we did gain some additional ideas, so from that standpoint I view the whole process as worthwhile and a success,” said Tyler Neeriemer, IT Administrator at First Federal Bank & Trust. “To actually win the competition is a testament to the people who started First Federal down the road to reach better cybersecurity and to our management and staff who continue to support, improve, and maintain the program,” continued Neeriemer.

Language I/O, being a software development shop, prior to the competition had adhered to and developed a long list of programming code standards, yet had also started a hardware cybersecurity effort and had begun their policy writing and staff training efforts.  Being a company that serves international customers, Language I/O featured a preventative approach to a complex environment, including outsourcing of their application server management to Green House Data.

“It was a thrill to participate in the Made Safe In Wyoming cybersecurity competition. We hope others will follow suit and help make Wyoming a leader in cybersecurity!” said Craig Boal, Director of Software Development at Language I/O.  Boal worked closely with Matt Cook, Software Developer and Data Protection Officer at Language I/O to create policies and secure their intellectual property, physical office, and network.

Wind Hosting stood out being a home based business that also serves customers nationwide and in Canada.  With limited internal resources, the company used the Cybersecurity Competition to further identify and address areas requiring attention providing the example for the rest of Wyoming that even home-based businesses need to consider cybersecurity risks.

“We are delighted with our 2nd place finish in the cybersecurity competition and believe the knowledge learned will set us apart from other hosting providers and benefit our existing and future customers,” said Bill Hastings, Business Affairs Director of Wind Hosting.

Interestingly enough, both Language I/O and Wind Hosting products are hosted by another Wyoming company and advocate for cybersecurity efforts in the State, Green House Data.   

“We are definitely running the competition again next year and every participant is interested in mentoring in their community,” said Baker, “Not only did we have three winners, but we had a lot of Firsts in the State.  ESal LLC was the first company to complete the process and meet their cybersecurity goals.  Star Awards and Promos was the first retailer to complete the process, meet their goals, and is excited about talking to other Mainstreet businesses in their community.  And, we also had a nonprofit completely run by volunteers enter the competition, the Laramie Train Depot. All can sleep better at night feeling good about addressing their risks.”