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San Diego’s innovative cyber-security initiative shines in Washington, D.C.

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Brings ESET’s Securing Our eCity Initiative to the national spotlight

By Ruben Barrales

While regional experts are cautiously muttering whispers of an economic recovery, San Diego is still grappling to gain momentum as it deals with the effects of the recent economic downturn.
The region’s leaders, public and private, understand that creating jobs and an environment that fosters would-be entrepreneurs could provide a much-needed shot in the arm to our region’s economic welfare.
Many leaders recognize the power of the Internet as a driver for bolstering economic and job growth in our region. It’s no longer necessary to invest in a brick-and-mortar presence to get an enterprise started, and the Internet provides a relatively low hurdle for potential entrepreneurs to take their business to their customers.
However, cyber-security, or lack thereof, has the potential to hinder growth critical to our already weakened economy. Businesses can be susceptible to cyber-criminal activity in a number of ways. Criminals who gain unauthorized access to a company’s computer networks can obtain customer information, accounting data and employees’ personal information, or even steal proprietary information that might benefit a competitor. On the flipside, consumers, who are already cautious about their spending, must be able to trust that their online purchases and communications are secure if we expect to move the needle in this area of potential growth.
San Diego’s unique Securing Our eCity initiative, spearheaded by San Diego software solutions provider ESET, is addressing these concerns and gaining national attention as a model that can be replicated throughout the country.
The initiative began with ESET’s vision to create a safe digital neighborhood that is both resistant to cyber threats and resilient to man‐made or natural disasters, where citizens, businesses, organizations and government can effectively and securely navigate, collaborate and conduct business to remain economically competitive in today’s fast‐changing technological environment. Through educational programs, the deployment of modern security technologies, and coordination with legislative and law enforcement agencies, Securing Our eCity is serving to inform various audiences and ultimately counter the rapidly growing wave of cyber-criminal activity.
The initiative’s goal is to not only create a cyber secure city where San Diegans can live, work and play on the Internet securely, but to also create a model that can be replicated in other cities.
The Securing Our eCity initiative now has more than 200 stakeholder partners — including The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce — who have committed to making San Diego a “model city” for cyber-security awareness, preparedness and education. In July, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to be a panelist at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force’s symposium to represent the initiative’s stakeholders and discuss cyber-security policy with industry and government leaders.
In particular, I was able to highlight the efforts of San Diego’s Securing Our eCity initiative, which is focused on fostering public and private partnerships at local, state, national and international levels, and helping to create a cyber-secure community. This initiative is a testament to how public and private organizations can work together to help achieve a common goal.
Thanks to the efforts of ESET and other local partners, Securing Our eCity is helping to position San Diego as a leading region in raising awareness about the importance of cyber-security. This past March, Janet Napolitano, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, laid out a challenge to individuals, businesses and organizations to find new ways to raise awareness about the importance of cyber-security and how to address it. The Department of Homeland Security received submissions from organizations around the country, and in July recognized the Securing Our eCity initiative as one of the winners of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Challenge’s best local/community plans category.
In addition to being able to share the knowledge we’ve gained through the Securing Our eCity initiatives on a national platform, the panel discussions – including participation from U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt, and others — have fueled further thought on how we can continue toward our goal of becoming a more cyber-secure community here in San Diego.
The Securing our eCity initiative is building upon that momentum Oct. 7 with its second Cybersecurity Symposium and first Cybersecurity Awards Ceremony, which coincides with Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October. The symposium will allow interested stakeholders the opportunity to hear about the latest trends and discuss relevant cyber-crime issues with likeminded leaders. Following the symposium, the initiative will honor local companies leading the charge when it comes to cyber-crime prevention and cyber-security awareness.
For more information on the Securing Our eCity initiative or the Cybersecurity Symposium and Awards, visit securingourecity.com.

Ruben Barrales is president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of
Commerce.

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