Cyber and Tech Summit held for local government employees

Published 8:36 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

When it comes to cybersecurity and technology, there is strength in numbers.

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury (CPPJ), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) hosted a Cyber and Tech Summit at the SEED Center for 40 local government employees from the five-parish region on Tuesday.

The various government agencies came together to train and exercise on the latest innovations and practices in cybersecurity and technology.

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The summit included a free tools review, CISA tabletop exercises and presentations by Beverly Henshaw, cybersecurity advisor, and Kelly Casas, training and exercise coordinator, Region 6 CISA. Topics included cyber risks to local governments, technology topics specific to Louisiana and the use of Artificial Technology (AI) in local government.

Charles Burton, director of information technology, CPPJ, explained that a highlight of the summit was the multi-agency collaboration that took place, with many participants not only learning from the speakers, but from their peers as well.

Together, local government employees were able to collaborate by sharing resources to improve cybersecurity throughout Southwest Louisiana, proving that Southwest Louisiana is safer and stronger together.

The participants are “technology and cyber defenders” that work to deter “bad actors” in the cyber world, he said. The ultimate goal of the summit was to improve a local government’s ability to defend against cyber activities of bad actors.

He said that this is important for any organization, but especially local government agencies that need to protect the services that they provide the community.

“We are entrusted to serve the community, so the community trusts us with their information to provide services. That information and those services we provide the community, we need to cyber defend against anyone who might interrupt those services.”

This is especially important in a world where technology is constantly changing.

“Technology is a part of our daily lives. It’s a part of our business, it’s a part of our work. It surrounds us, and it is constantly evolving and improving upon itself.”

The bad actors use these quick advancements to take advantage of those who aren’t up to date on the capabilities of new technology.

Civilians can stay safe online by implementing four practices: recognize and report phishing, use strong passwords, turn on multi-factor authentication and consistently update software.