IT industry produces Cyber Security Conference


The West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium in Grand Rapids is a multi-jurisdictional and public-private partnership. Photo via

When it comes to cyber security, no business wants to be the next Target, which lost 40 million records in 2013 in a breach that cost the company $148 million.

Tomorrow, a conference is being held in Grand Rapids to help businesses avoid a similar fate.

The second-annual Grand Rapids Cyber Security Conference will be from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Grand Valley State University’s Eberhard Center, at 301 W. Fulton St.

The conference will include three tracks of breakout sessions, each aimed at a different level of expertise: security 101 track; advanced track; and executive track.

There will also be networking opportunities in between sessions.

A continental breakfast and boxed lunches will be provided.

The IT firm Trivalent Group, Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan and West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium are hosting the free conference.

The conference is setup to “provide insights, regardless of your level of expertise,” said Phil Catlett, president, Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan.

The event will help attendees assess risk, build a plan and respond effectively to a cyber-security attack.

"As soon as we think we know how to protect our data, resources and identities, a new way to attack, steal or use them appears,” said Larry Andrus, CEO, Trivalent Group.

Keynote address

A dozen speakers will be featured at the conference, including Federal Trade Commission attorney Christopher Panek, who will provide the keynote, “Having a Plan to Prepare for, Avoid and Respond to Breaches and Intrusions.”

Panek is a member of the FTC’s regional office in Cleveland, and he recently won a judgment against an Orlando-based telemarketer using the "Rachel from Card Services" scam to defraud customers.

Speakers and topics

Barb Hiemstra, information security director for Kent County, will speak on the efforts to develop a cyber-security plan for the region with West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium.

Dan Post, senior systems engineer at Varonis, will discuss how Target lost 40 million customer records, thanks to an insider breach in 2013, during his presentation, "Six Tactics for Preventing Insider Threats."

John Hey, Trivalent Group COO, will discuss how business-continuity planning can protect digital information assets and prevent technology downtime.

Jennifer Puplava, partner and attorney at Mika Meyers, will speak on legal considerations for cyber-security compliance.

Jill Miller, Varnum attorney, will speak on the shift to secure chip technology for credit card payments.

Aaron Shaver, cloud solution architect at US Signal, will provide answers to the question, “What are the top ten questions to ask your cloud service provider about security?”

Abraham Jones, information services supervisor at Spectrum Health, will address deploying Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit as a way to reduce the likelihood of successful exploitation of today's most commonly abused applications, including browsers, Reader, Flash Player and Java.

Ray Davidson, threat intelligence specialist with West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium, will give an overview of social engineering and provide business executives with some concrete ideas of what they can do to decrease the vulnerability of their organizations to social engineering attacks.

Steve Miller, system administrator at Gordon Food Service, will go over using various security baseline tools and integrating those baselines into your server deployment and management systems.

Andy Syrewicze, senior cloud services engineer at Trivalent Group, plans to discuss password best practices, secure systems management, social media security and trends in the industry when it comes to basic security.

Michael Pearson, sales engineer at WatchGuard Technologies, will discuss the threat of polymorphic malware.

Kevin Dempsey, regional technical manager with Solutionary, will provide an overview of the financial, operational and organizational considerations that purchasers of security solutions may want to consider. 


People can register for the Grand Rapids Cyber Security Conference online.

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