PROVIDENCE – Salve Regina University’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy will offer Rhode Island business leaders the opportunity to join a cybersecurity training workshop free of charge.
Beginning next week, the Pell Center will host the Rhode Island Corporate Cybersecurity Initiative, a series of seminars and table-top exercises for senior leaders and executives.
The initiative is part of an ongoing effort at the Pell Center to focus on the issue of cybersecurity. Other events in the series will include briefings on emerging cyber threats and responses, lectures with leading cybersecurity experts, training classes, working group meetings and other boardroom cybersecurity exercises.
“Experience has demonstrated that meeting the cyber challenge requires a panoply of solutions, including improved awareness, staff training, information sharing, and new frameworks for collaboration and education,” said Dr. James Ludes, Pell Center executive director, in a release. “The Pell Center’s cybersecurity initiative can play an important role in meeting the challenges we all face today.”
The first scheduled event, a two-hour seminar introducing participants to the fundamentals of cybersecurity, will be held in two sessions on Sept. 11 and 12.
Francesca Spidalieri, the Pell Center Fellow for Cyber Leadership and coordinator of the R.I. Corporate Cybersecurity Initiative, said she hopes to attract business leaders representing the full breadth of Rhode Island’s corporate community, from banking to contracting to health care.
“Cyber threats are real and have the potential to undo all the economic, social, and military advances enabled by the information revolution,” said Spidalieri. “Private sector leaders have a critical role to play in responding to this threat because so much critical infrastructure is made up of privately owned networks and systems – but also, quite frankly, because corporations like yours are the primary targets of cyber-attacks and cyber-espionage.”
Although the table-top and boardroom exercises are private, invitation-only events, the series will also include lectures open to the public, including a talk by private-sector cybersecurity expert Melissa Hathaway about why businesses should care about cybersecurity.
“There are two types of business: those who’ve been hacked, and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked,” said Spidalieri. “Whether you’re Raytheon or a mom-and-pop, information is your biggest asset. If that information is stolen, your entire line of business can be in jeopardy.”
Spidalieri emphasized that Pell Center will not ask participating businesses to divulge if they have been hacked. Instead, she said, the program will focus on encouraging best practices, like erecting a strong firewall to protect intellectual property, creating secure passwords and training all employees in the basics of cybersecurity.
“The one thing we want business leaders to take out of this is that you need to train all your employees,” said Spidalieri. “You can have the best IT department, but if you don’t train your employees, you’re only going to be as strong as your weakest link.”
Rhode Island businesses interested in participating in the R.I. Corporate Cybersecurity Initiative can contact Francesca Spidalieri at email@example.com.