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Sunday, 14 April 2013 22:06

GR conference to explore cybersecurity preparedness

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GRAND RAPIDS — Businesses and government agencies need to be prepared to deal with the latest cybersecurity issues as well as threats related to natural disasters and crime.

That’s the reason some 1,300 government and business professionals are expected to attend the 2013 Great Lakes Homeland Security Training Conference & Expo at DeVos Place later this month.

Focusing on the theme “Pride in Service,” this year’s conference pays tribute to the work of homeland security professionals and the important role everyone plays in protecting communities against all threats and hazards. The agenda encompasses a wide selection of topics, such as proactive school security planning, creating a cyber security program, emergency health care credentialing, smartphones as mobile tool boxes and lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy.

Keynotes will come from Robert M. Gates, former U.S. Secretary of Defense; Col. David Hunt, retired U.S. Army commander and Fox News military analyst; and Kenneth S. Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services.

The annual event, sponsored by the Michigan State Police’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division and the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Office of Public Health Preparedness, is scheduled for April 30-May 2.

The last day to register is Friday April 19 at 5 p.m. The registration fee is $350. Registration is available online through the Michigan State Police Learning Management System at

“The biggest issues we’re facing are … cyber attacks against our businesses and government institutions and physical threats to our schools and public health,” said Capt. Chris Kelenske deputy state director of the emergency management and homeland security division at the Michigan State Police. “Cyber threats even extend to protecting our medical records from hackers.”

Among the business-related topics covered is business disaster recovery planning.

“Any business, small or large, needs to have a continuity of operations plan in place,” Capt. Kelenske said. “Every business also needs a point of contact for all hazardous threats, no matter how big or small. We’ve seen businesses go under after a disaster. So the question we ask is: ‘Do you want your business to survive a disaster, cyber or natural?’ This conference will help you figure out a plan.”

About a quarter of the tracks this year deal with cyber threats to business and government. Increasingly hackers and nation states are targeting business computer networks for the rich treasure trove of financial and intellectual property contained in them, said Dan Lohrmann, chief security officer for the state of Michigan. Lohrmann is in charge of the state’s physical and cyber security.

“I think this conference is a must-attend for businesses and local government that want to be prepared in the event of any unforeseen emergency,” Lohrmann said. “Cyber is the fastest growing threat, but certainly no less important than physical security.”

Other sessions will cover the opportunity and threats posed by bringing your own mobile device to work and plugging it into the business computer network, the global cyber threats posed to government entities, and Michigan’s catastrophic destruction recovery plan.

“It asks, how prepared are we if the electrical grid goes down,” Lohrmann said. “What are the threats to other critical infrastructure, such as water treatments systems, pipelines, and more?”

Another session, moderated by this reporter, will look at trends in global cyber security.

Mike Brennan is the senior writer for technology at MiBiz. His day job is as editor & publisher of

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