Cybersecurity – A Look Back Through the Years

  • Published: Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021

Even before the Internet was a household name, cybersecurity was on the forefront of industry experts’ radar, and questions on how to keep the world wide web safe was a large topic of conversation. Thirty years later, we still devote a multitude of resources to keep our organizations, employees and end users safe online. It’s a full-time job with hackers, malware and viruses getting more sophisticated every day.

In the early 2000s, our cybersecurity team, then called our security team, was solidifying under their first manager, Jim Martin. Shortly after, we began a meeting of like minds and called it the Security Symposium. In the early years, the Security Symposium was a partnership with Linn Technical College (now State Tech) and the Missouri National Guard.

In 2004, we began adding cybersecurity services such as Email, Virus and Spam Filtering and Internet Content Filtering to the services we offer. Our team also began focusing on cybersecurity awareness with our Internet Safety Night and Internet Safety Night started out as live cybersecurity awareness nights at local schools, and, with video bridging also a fast-growing service, we began offering the nights live at our office or directly from the school that was hosting. Cybersecurity awareness was the focus on It was a website to help technical staff and teachers to find free resources to teach their staff and young users to be safe online.

With the popularity and importance of cybersecurity and our special events, our team hosted a webinar every month on Wednesday for five years, not missing a month. One of our favorite times of year, according to Randy Raw who served as our Security team manager from 2004 to 2011, was at our conferences each spring. “We would lug these huge servers into a conference room down at the lake. Build it up and have a hack-a-thon. It sometimes went early into the morning.” He remembers using Novell Netware and Windows 3.11 in those early days.

Today our focus is still on cybersecurity awareness and helping you protect and mitigate cybersecurity threats. We offer a weekly email on the latest threats and trends each Friday and tweet more pertinent threats throughout the week. Our staff help members with malware, DDoS attacks and, most recently, ransomware. We monitor and respond quickly to cybersecurity events to guide our members on best practices and help to prevent future incidents. We also began offering cybersecurity assessments to help you find potential vulnerabilities and how to mitigate them. And you can’t mention our cybersecurity team without talking about cybersecurity awareness. We have offered multiple services and training programs over the years to help protect the most vulnerable asset on your network: your humans.

Training is also still at the forefront of our services, offering cybersecurity bootcamps, our cybersecurity roadshows and our newest training curriculum launched in August, Building your own Cybersecurity Awareness Program. Kathy Bellew, who joined our cybersecurity team in 2014, thinks the most important aspect of her job is assisting our members through education, training, mitigation strategies and assisting in the promotion of security best practices for everyone. “Everyone is online. Everyone connects through digital media. It is important to be aware of security best practices in order to keep yourself, your home and your organization safe. I think it is an essential and significant part of my job to be able to assist in this way.”