Cyber Talk Radio: National Cybersecurity Awareness Month with the San Antonio Chamber

Bret Piatt, CTR Host, and Amanda Keammerer, VP of Cybersecurity at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and director of Cybersecurity of San Antonio - Episode 158 of Cyber Talk Radio

This past Saturday, October 5, episode 158 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Amanda Keammerer, VP of Cybersecurity at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, to discuss the growth of cybersecurity issues and solutions in the San Antonio area and the importance of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

The last two times Amanda was a guest on the show, she had different titles! She first came on Cyber Talk Radio in September of 2018 to discuss last year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month theme while she was the deputy director of Cybersecurity San Antonio. She also came over in May of this year to chat about key focus areas and initiatives in the San Antonio area while she was acting vice president and director for Cybersecurity! Now she’s the vice president! The Chamber’s Cybersecurity Industry Council is the leading force of Cybersecurity San Antonio and is an important driver in the San Antonio cybersecurity ecosystem — it’s unique in having this robust of a community and resources available to promote economic development and community growth. The whole month of October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which was originally started by Homeland Security and is now under the National Cyber Security Alliance. This year’s theme is “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” because it’s more important now than ever to be proactive in implementing your own preventative cybersecurity practices! The Chamber’s cybersecurity membership and engagement status has grown exponentially since its start (they’re currently at 350+ members). State Representative Will Hurd, as well as people from the FBI and NSA, have come by to talk and present to the council. Cybersecurity is a true bipartisan issue because nobody wants to be a victim of a cyber attack.

When Amanda moved from Washington, D.C. back to San Antonio, she noticed that the cyber world is not as protected as it should be. There’s no public cyber emergency service, meaning there’s nobody to call when there’s a huge cybersecurity breach or ransomware attack! The Chamber’s still working on trying to figure out how San Antonio can channel this growing energy out to help conduct security assessments for local small business that don’t have the resources to do so otherwise. The Cybersecurity San Antonio committee is going into its fifth year with five core focus areas, which are: Global Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development, Military and Government Affairs, Sustainability, and lastly, Talent and Workforce Development.

After the break, we discuss the president’s executive order on cybersecurity. The Chamber wrote and sent a letter to the president on behalf of the entire cybersecurity community emphasizing it agreement with the contents of that executive order. Speaking of the federal government, Amanda’s previous role was in the White House during the last administration in the office of the chief information officer working on federal level stuff. Another issue in the industry is the need for women to jump in and fill the workforce gap. If you’re not working on including half of the population in the industry, you’re missing out. The Chamber’s program called Woman to Woman, Leader to Leader is connecting women in top military roles and women who are industry leaders in order to break the barriers to making connections. Amanda discussed an op ed she wrote with a previous CTR guest, Deanne Cuellar, on Startups San Antonio about Latinas who are working in the local tech community. Some of the many obstacles for minorities in the cyber industry are digital infrastructure and role models. It’s important to have these conversations and embrace change and give them opportunities in the tech world early in their education. It’s also important to give opportunities locally — high schools such as Cyber P-Tech and CAST Tech are making these opportunities more accessible. Each year, the Chamber does a trip for around 200 people to go to Washington, D.C., appropriately called SA to DC, to meet and talk federal priorities and policy as well as advocate for the community’s needs. It’s also a great way to advocate for federal funds and grants and establish relationships in our nation’s capital. Registration for the 2020 trip will open on February 3-6, 2020.

Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about Amanda’s work with Cybersecurity at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

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