Two-day event targets professionals, young people

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FARMINGTON — San Juan College will host its third annual CyberCon cyber security conference on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Lorenzo Reyes — director of the college’s Center for Workforce Development, which is sponsoring the conference — said the event will focus on the importance of cyber security and the potential for growth in both the regional economy and in individuals lives. 

“The purpose is two-fold,” Reyes said. “One is for business and typical computer users, to provide awareness to the importance of cyber security. The other one — which to me is probably the most important, because I’m in education — is to open up opportunities for our future workers. If we don’t do a good job of providing career awareness and exploration, the opportunities are going to become very, very limited.”

Reyes said there are currently some 350,000 unfilled positions in the cyber security industry, and that the field is still growing and advancing. 

The conference will include not only information about the how individuals can protect themselves online and about the college’s information technology programs and scholarships, but also presentations by industry professionals who can speak to the abundance of opportunities in the field, Reyes said.

The two-day event will feature keynote presentations by Richard Hammer and Matthew Henderson, cyber security experts from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the FBI, respectively, according to a press release.

Hammer, a research development scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, will address how to “Harden Your Identity” in his keynote speech at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, as well as in breakout sessions throughout the day. 

Henderson, an intelligence analysist for the FBI’s Albuquerque Field Office, will discuss cyber threats in New Mexico during the lunch keynote speech at 12:55 p.m. on Wednesday. 

Other topics covered during the convention include cyber security resiliency, identity protection, critical infrastructure protection and education in cyber security, according to the press release. Presenters, who are experts in their industry, will also discuss cyber security in the fields of education, electric utilities, health care system, media and oil and gas. 

The conference’s first day targets business and industry professionals, and the second day is a youth day.

CyberCon is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday and from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday at the Henderson Fine Arts Center. Though the conference is free, participants must register because seating is limited, according to a press release.

About 100 people had signed up for Wednesday’s events, though Reyes said he expected as many as 150 professionals and community members to show for the first day. Reyes said there were approximately 325 students from around the Four Corners region signed up for Thursday’s events.

The 2017 conference hosted some 120 adults and 350 high school students. The event’s 2017 youth day was so well received that the organizers invited regional middle schools to participate in this year's conference, Reyes said. 

During the youth day, presenters will also discuss careers in cyber security and social media security. The convention will be “a hands-on educational day for middle and high school students,” the press release states. 

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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