Pensacola government, business leaders hold cybersecurity panel

By Jamir Sellers
Staff writer

With October being National Cyber Awareness month, the Center for Cyber Security at the University of West Florida held a roundtable that brought Pensacola government and local business officials together to discuss how they and UWF can work together to create a bigger and better workforce to combat the ongoing battle of threats to America’s information systems.

The panel of leaders — which included Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, and Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill, among others — discussed how they view the state of cybersecurity now as the world has transitioned to becoming a cyber world.  The panel also stressed that they must maintain a trust base with the citizens and work hard to articulate what citizens should be doing to avoid being a victim of a cyber-attack.

A panel consisting of local leaders stressed that cybersecurity should not be taken lightly. (Photo by Jamir Sellers)

“You look 16 years ago, after 9-11 the way we go about protecting our country and our citizens back then has changed on how we protect our country now,” Hayward said. “We, as the leaders, have to be intelligent to what we present to our community but also the culture has to change, too.”

According to the UWF Center for Cyber Security, every year there are 90 million global cybercrimes and attacks with nearly 400 new threats every minute, and up to 70 percent of these attacks go undetected.

“The biggest risk of cybersecurity attacks is ignorance, we must be resilient against cyber-attacks but also our public need to be smart and treat internet safety like they do the safety of walking across the street,” Underhill said.

Panel members also discussed how they partner with UWF, as well as other industries and community businesses, to address the cybersecurity issues that the country faces now.

The panel concluded that there is a need to train the workforce on how to educate people at UWF and all of Northwest Florida, because there are many current and future jobs that need to be filled that can only be filled with the knowledge on how to protect themselves and their community from cyber threats.

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