North Augusta Chamber’s Lightning Talks Explain Cyber, Other Issues

November 5, 2018|

The term “cyber” can be enough to scare an average person away. It’s hard to talk about something we tend to feel is out of our control.

Admittedly, until about two years ago, I could count my login passwords on one hand. Now, I know too much not to use tools like two-factor authentication and alphanumeric password generators — but what about physicians, businesses and other organizations that have personal information?

Attending the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce’s Lightning Talks, sponsored by EDTS Cyber, reminded me of a few things:

  • We all have a role to play in protecting our information and the information that we are entrusted with.
  • We as a community are not alone and should turn to local, state or federal partners when we suspect an incident might have occurred.
  • Cyber knows no boundaries. While there are challenges ahead, there are way more opportunities.

Seizing on the opportunities for our region’s future workforce, Aiken Works highlighted Aiken Public School District’s partnerships with Fort Gordon, the National Security Agency, the State Department and other public/private entities to update computer science curriculum and get students thinking about careers in technical fields early in their education.

I mean, if I had known in middle school that gamified artificial intelligence and machine learning would become the new textbook, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here writing this with my liberal arts education ….

Organizations like the Cyber SC Foundation partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the education and private sectors to increase awareness and funding for our state’s cyber needs. Dr. Sandra Jordan, chancellor of University of South Carolina Aiken, a COPLAC institution, touted the school’s applied computer science program and cooperation with industry to fill skill gaps. A homegrown workforce equals more economic opportunities in our area.

Whew. Now for those of us who won’t be hitting the cyber range anytime soon ….

From a professional perspective, it was great to hear from Sean Fay, cyber liaison officer for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s up-and-coming S.C. Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Program about the agency’s services to small and midsized businesses and their partnership with the S.C. National Guard to establish a cyber brigade (one of two in the country!).

Being in constituent services, I receive calls from business owners and citizens alike who believe they may have fallen victim to scams or have had their personal information stolen but do not necessarily feel comfortable reaching out to federal authorities.

I was shocked to learn that 60 percent of small and midsized businesses close their doors within six months after a cyberattack. As the wife of a small business owner, it is reassuring to know that SLED is committed to assisting small businesses and consumers when incidents occur.

While we heard from a wide range of presenters, one point was common: We, as a community, have to have uncomfortable conversations in order to better protect ourselves and answer new questions that come our way.

I’m glad I attended Lightning Talks, and I appreciate the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce and everyone who participated for facilitating an uncomfortable, but necessary, conversation.


Stephanie Pendarvis is a North Augusta Chamber of Commerce MVP. The North Augusta Chamber MVP (My ViewPoint) platform provides an opportunity for members/volunteers to share their perspective on programs and events presented by the North Augusta Chamber.

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