Sen. Thune Leads Cyber Security Hearing At DSU

Addressed security of individuals and businesses

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South Dakota Sen. John Thune was on the Dakota State University campus Thursday afternoon for a field hearing on cyber security.

Thune is the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He was one of several committee members who brought ideas to the table, but the consensus was clear: this is not a topic that should be taken lightly.

“Confronting the Challenge of Cybersecurity” addressed the present and future of cyber security on a local and national basis.

The committee discussed how this issue is important for small business owners and individuals on mobile devices, alike.

Thune said the geographical location of South Dakota does not mean it isn’t susceptible to cyber-attacks.

“Sometimes we think we’re a little bit isolated from some of these issues out here. Small, medium sized businesses out here, you heard some people talk about it today, are targeted on a daily basis,” said Thune.

SDN Communications CEO Mark Shlanta gave examples of real experiences of SDN customers that were victims of cyber attacks.

One example included a small wire-twisting manufacturer getting attacked in hundreds of different methods from as far as Brazil.

Shlanta also showed a presentation showing a cyber attack that was targeted on Twitter. The hackers released a list of victims.

On that list were the domain names of state government officials in Sioux Falls.

“This is a real life example showing that we in South Dakota are not immune to cyber-attacks,” warned Shlanta.

Dakota State University is one of the dozen designated schools in the country that specialize in cyber education. The cyber operations program at DSU is nationally recognized by the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security as a national center of academic excellence.

Sen. Thune said it’s important to get students engaged in the discussion going forward.

“This is an ever-changing landscape. Constantly evolving. The threats change daily and we have to stay ahead of it,” explained Sen. Thune.

About 150 people showed up for the hearing, including around 50 students. Questions from the audience ranged from combating malware to keeping personal information private.

As far as the concept of cyber security going forward, Sen. Thune had a stern message for everyone from business owners to government officials.

“We all have to take it more seriously,” said Thune.

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