Huntsville is a town full of government contractors and tech companies, both large and small. Because of this, the cybersecurity Huntsville needs tends to outweigh that needed by many other cities of similar size. Huntsville is held to a higher standard. We have to make sure that we live up to that standard. Otherwise, we risk losing our title as one of the tech capitals – and more specifically the epicenter for cybersecurity – of the South.
Huntsville is already home to a number of engineering giants, large tech companies, and vital government organizations. It seems like every week, we hear about another big company or government organization making plans to set up shop in or around the city. Combine that with the rise of entrepreneurship, and it becomes next to impossible to make an accurate count of just how many companies we have in Huntsville either producing high-tech innovations or providing invaluable support to our federal government. Huntsville is a hotbed for these types of companies. But that also means that Huntsville is a hot target for cybercriminals and nation state adversaries. These companies that call Huntsville home need to recognize targets on their backs and protect themselves and their assets accordingly.
Cybersecurity for the Huntsville Tech Scene
Take the tech companies for instance. A company producing a high-tech innovation only stays relevant so long as that innovation remains proprietary. If they fail to secure those innovations, they lose their competitive advantage. If the innovation is software based, the cyber defenses the company has in place are critical. Those safeguards are the only things standing between potential competitors and the ability to completely replicate the innovation. So, what do these companies need to do?
For a tech company worried about cybersecurity, the first step would be to conduct a thorough cyber risk assessment. They need to assess the impacts a cyber event would have on their business. The result of that assessment should provide a clear picture of what kind of vulnerabilities the company is facing. Then, it comes down to figuring out which tools, services, and policies they need to mitigate these vulnerabilities. For Huntsville tech companies, these lists will usually contain things like multi factor authentication, next generation firewalls, and risk management dashboards. But those are just bare minimums and should be expanded upon based on the specific needs of the company’s unique cybersecurity challenges.
Cybersecurity for Government Contractors
The cybersecurity Huntsville-based government contractors must consider is both a matter of protecting the government assets that they handle and their continued ability to win (or even apply for) government contracts. For many government contractors, handling hundreds or even thousands of gigabytes of sensitive government information can be a daily, or even hourly, occurrence. Failing to appropriately protect even one piece of this sensitive information could prove disastrous for both operational security and the professional reputation of the contractor. These contractors need tools to safeguard their systems from competitors, nation state adversaries, and potential insider threats. A consumer level firewall and antivirus package simply will not cut it.
Beyond the needs to protect federal assets, contractors that work with or hope to work with the Department of Defense are beholden to the DoD’s new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). The CMMC Framework will change the game for all government contractors focused on selling business to the DoD. Under CMMC, contractors will have to achieve specific levels in order to secure new contracts with the DoD. With each level comes a list of mandatory minimum requirements. These requirements can range anywhere from simple security policy implementation to enterprise-wide continuous monitoring. Even for the smallest contracts, DoD contractors will be expected to have stronger cybersecurity than your average business of comparable size.
Understanding the Cybersecurity Huntsville Needs… And Wants
Mission Multiplier is in a unique situation to understand the level of cybersecurity Huntsville needs. We are Huntsville company at our core. We spent our first few years focusing on government contracts and assisting fellow contractors with cybersecurity. In recent years, we expanded our purview to include commercial cybersecurity as well. Our clients have included the Army, NASA, local government, local nonprofit organizations, and far too many local companies to list. We have become intimately familiar with how big of a priority cybersecurity has become for Huntsville.
When it comes to being a leader in cybersecurity, Huntsville doesn’t just stop at fulfilling the minimum requirements for business. We are home to Cyber Huntsville, which leverages Huntsville’s technical expertise and leadership to help with local, regional, and national cyber challenges. We play host to the National Cyber Summit, the nation’s most innovative cybersecurity-technology event. Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center holds an annual U.S. Cyber Camp, which allows students from around the nation to delve into the world of cyber technologies through blended hands-on experiences and challenges. Even without mentioning the multitude of smaller initiatives, it’s easy to see that Huntsville not only needs cybersecurity for the sake of business, but wants it to be an integral part of our overall community.
For the Companies That Haven’t Stepped Up to the Plate
We get it, bolstering cybersecurity isn’t usually on the list of initial objectives when starting and growing a business. When a company’s entire team is made up of less than twenty people, it isn’t common for one of those people to be a CISO. But if you’re a tech or government contracting company that hasn’t started to prioritize cybersecurity, Huntsville will expect you to step up your game. If you don’t, you risk losing everything that gives you a competitive edge. You risk being left behind in the fast-paced, technology-driven business scene of our town. Huntsville may not have the same cut-throat reputation as other well-known tech centers, but it also doesn’t slow down for those who can’t keep up.
If you’re a tech company, start assessing your vulnerabilities. If you’re a government contractor, start studying up on CMMC. And if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Huntsville is here to help. Mission Multiplier is here to help. Huntsville is a major hub for technology, government business, and cybersecurity. We want it to stay that way.