In a world where digital threats are constantly evolving, staying ahead of the curve is essential—and for Certified CIO, that especially applies to small and medium business IT concerns. This year, two of our top IT security experts, Shaun Miller and Mike Repenning, had the opportunity to attend CackalackyCon 2024 in Raleigh, NC. Their experiences shed light on the ever-growing importance of cybersecurity in today’s business landscape. 

The Importance of Local Cybersecurity Communities 

One of the standout themes from CackalackyCon 2024 was the crucial role local cybersecurity communities play in fortifying small businesses. Shaun and Mike emphasized that while global trends are important, the unique challenges faced by local enterprises require tailored solutions. Engaging with local experts and peers provides invaluable insights and fosters a supportive network, creating a robust defense against cyber threats. Together, regional cyberdefenses are stronger. 

Immersive Cyber and Physical Security Workshops 

Shaun and Mike found the blend of cyber and physical security workshops particularly enlightening. Sessions that stood out included workshops covering the integration of physical security measures steps away from those with cutting-edge cybersecurity practices. Mike Repenning shared, “We get a wide range of practical views on technological security but physical security as well. The end goal is to apply that knowledge to our clients and to be able to speak from a place of subject matter expertise.” 

These workshops highlighted actionable strategies that small business owners can implement immediately to enhance their security posture. 

In-Depth Talks with Subject Matter Experts 

Engaging with industry leaders was another key highlight for Shaun and Mike. CackalackyCon 2024 featured talks by renowned subject matter experts who delved into advanced topics such as threat hunting, incident response, and data privacy. 

Shaun noted, “These sessions offered a deep dive into sophisticated security techniques that are becoming increasingly accessible to smaller organizations. It’s empowering to know that effective cybersecurity isn’t just for the big players anymore and really hasn’t been for some time. So it’s nice to talk to everyone and see good practices spreading.” 

Mike also found great value in the talks, saying, “There are talks on a wide range of topics from how security researchers do their job to find vulnerabilities in modern operating systems and software as well as networks and communication, using this information we are able to better protect our clients. After each of those talks we get the opportunity to connect with the presenters that give us a resource to reach out to when we are hardening our own networks, servers, workstations, and user accounts.” 

The Thrill of the Hacking Village 

For those who love a challenge, the “hacking village” was an unforgettable part of the conference. Shaun and Mike spent time exploring this dynamic area, which featured interactive stations where attendees could test their skills in real-world scenarios.  

Capture the Flag Event: A Learning Experience 

The Capture the Flag (CTF) event was another significant takeaway from CackalackyCon 2024. This competitive exercise involves solving cybersecurity challenges to capture virtual flags, fostering teamwork and strategic thinking. Both Shaun and Mike participated as part of a team called PWN 252, finding the event both challenging and rewarding. Mike noted, “Participating in Capture The Flag events, like the one our team placed second out of 65 teams, helps us to get first hand experience in the inherent security vulnerabilities in network, software, and hardware components. That knowledge translates directly into a more secure environment protecting our clients. These conferences keep us up to date on what we are facing today as well as preparing for what is coming tomorrow. I have made many great friends from going to conferences like CackalackyCon that have directly shaped the way I do my day to day work.”  

Bringing It All Together for Small and Medium Business Owners 

Shaun Miller and Mike Repenning’s experiences at CackalackyCon 2024 underscore the importance of continuous learning and community engagement in cybersecurity and the IT world in general. For small business owners, some lessons from this conference are clear: 

  • Engage Locally: Ensure your IT resources are connected with your local cybersecurity community to share knowledge and resources. 
  • Integrate Security Measures: Consider both physical and cyber aspects of security for a comprehensive approach. 
  • Learn from Experts: Take advantage of opportunities to learn from industry leaders and subject matter experts and apply their insights to your business. 
  • Get Hands-On: Encourage your IT staff to participate in interactive events like hacking villages and CTFs to build practical skills. 
  • Collaborate: Remember that teamwork and community support are vital in defending against cyber threats. 

By embracing these principles, small and medium business owners can strengthen their defenses and stay ahead in the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity. Let’s take the lessons from Shaun and Mike’s journey at CackalackyCon 2024 and apply them to YOUR business’s cyber-environment! Schedule a call with us today! 

(PostScript: The name “cackalacky” originated as a pejorative related to the rural nature of North Carolina at the time of the word’s origin. However, the convention has embraced the term. See its statement on use of the term. We do not intend any negative insinuations by including it here.) 


Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!