With increasing digital connection, individuals and businesses rely heavily on cyber security to protect their sensitive information.
That's one reason Topeka-based Century Dynamic Technology Solutions teamed up with the Greater Topeka Partnership Wednesday to host a free Cyber Security Summit on the Washburn University campus.
Around 150 people registered to attend the summit, according to Mitch Miller, vice president of Century Dynamic's business technologies dynamic division. That's more than double the number of people who attended a similar event Century Dynamic held three years ago. Attendees ranged from business leaders to concerned citizens.
"In three years, cyber security has just blown up," Miller said. "I mean, the attacks, the malware — all these things happening in the cyber world have just caused people to look closer and closer at 'How am I protecting myself? How can I prevent scenarios against my company? Am I insured properly?'"
The summit brought in speakers from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, CoreFirst Bank & Trust, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, WatchGuard Technologies and Brier Payne Meade Insurance. Presenters talked about issues ranging from all things digital forensics to the need for cyber security insurance.
"Education is key, not only for small businesses but for everybody," said Justin Sharples, CoreFirst's senior vice president of information security.
"There are a lot of monetary losses that are occurring all over, for small businesses in particular," Sharples said. "They are, unfortunately, being targeted by unknown hackers and are suffering some fairly significant losses."
He added its important for people to be aware of how they can protect their accounts and be careful when it comes to giving out private information.
"People need to be aware that the bank's not going to call and ask for the pin number or credit card number, and they need to just be a little more cautious with email and phone and electronics in general," Sharples said.
But, as Brett Gamso, property and casualty agent for Brier Payne Meade Insurance, noted — not all breaches in information are avoidable.
Gamso talked Wednesday about how important it is for businesses to have cyber liability insurance to help them recover if they experience data breaches or hacks.
"The costs associated with a data breach are significant. Average cost in the U.S. is $83.8 million for a data breach, according to an IBM study last year," Gamso said. "And 60 percent of small businesses who do suffer a data breach go out of business."
He added educational opportunities like Wednesday's summit are key when it comes to informing the public on cyber issues.
"It's an eye-opener to how real the risk is," he said. "We don't hear about it every day. We hear about the big breaches at the big companies but not about how sensitive our data really is."
Miller said the event was strictly educational, and there was one big takeaway.
"Everything now is digitally connected," Miller said. "Everything has to be secured."