In early 2013, I began to notice that the Spokane, WA community did not have a large number of computer security experts. I started to reach out to some of the businesses in the area and determined that there was a lack of community support and knowledge in the area.
I worked with several local and global companies to determine interest. Throughout 2013, I met with several groups and determined that the community was in need of an educational consortium that would allow us to share our knowledge of threats/concerns, work together to bring high quality cyber security training to our region, and allow members to call on one another for assistance.
In November 2013, the Spokane Security Group was founded. We held an election and seated a board of community IT/IT Security practitioners. We saw immediate success and started getting calls to form chapters around the Pacific Northwest. Based on this, we decided to change our name to the “Community Security Coalition” to better reflect our mission and allow other chapters to be formed.
Our coalition has been featured in the news multiple times, and we are frequently called upon from a wide range of businesses and government entities, seeking our expertise on different of information security topics and events they did not have the expertise to manage. Furthermore, as part of this coalition, I personally have assisted organizations with writing job descriptions for the hiring of cyber security professionals.
The Coalition is open to everyone, and we try to bring in corporate executives, as they need to know that this has to be one of their priorities. We hold four quarterly meetings. Three of these meetings are three-hour sessions, comprised of a one-hour club business meeting and two one-hour training sessions. We also hold an all-day annual event that addresses concerns that our members have voiced. We do not charge any dues or charge for any of our events. We partner with corporate sponsors, who provide full support for all events. They, in turn, are allowed to set up marketing booths around the meetings.
The Community Security Coalition has become a community changing organization in the area, and I encourage all in the industry to set up something similar in your communities; it is extremely rewarding to serve the communities that serve us.
Find out more at http://www.communitysecuritycoalition.org/about-us/, or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5053438.
Contributed by Mike Meline, M.S. in Information Assurance, 2009