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Douglas Rapp

Douglas Rapp

PORTAGE — Data security breaches in Indiana cost business some $221 million annually, a state cybersecurity advisor told a gathering of local businesspeople on Thursday.

Douglas Rapp, an advisor for Cybersecurity & National Security Initiatives at the Indiana Economic Development Corp., spoke at a Cybersecurity Town Hall meeting held at the Northwest Indiana Forum.

"In the world-wide market, the estimated loss due to cyber breaches is $6 trillion over the next five years. It's not going away," Rapp said.

The session on Thursday included information on how the state of Indiana is positioning itself to lead the way on cybersecurity including gathering feedback from participants at a series of 11 Town Hall meetings.

It is part of the IEDC's and Gov. Mike Pence's plan to invest $1 billion during the next 10 years to advance innovation and entrepreneurship in Indiana.

"Cybersecurity is just part of that bigger initiative. We are gathering information from those in the field and making them aware of all the assistance the state can provide to grow businesses and create jobs," Rapp said.

Indiana is a state of collaboration, Rapp added.

"While others are trying to figure out how to bring stakeholders to the table, Indiana has built coalitions across government, military and industry to take a holistic approach to cybersecurity," Rapp said. "Indiana is unique with our state level cybersecurity advisory council, complex training at unique venues, cross-industry information sharing and a focus on cybersecurity economic development."

Rapp asked for input from participants at the Town Hall meeting on what companies need.

Lorri Feldt, regional director for the Indiana Small Business Development Center, said she had worked with a small manufacturing business that had experienced an incredible negative impact due to a data security breach.

"Maybe have a guide of what they could do...Their business of some 30 employees was small but it (the breach) had a huge impact on the company," Feldt said.

Rapp said there have been some re-occurring themes, such as a need for a state level resource center. The Portage Town Hall meeting was his fourth.

"If there are breach issues, there's confusion about who to call," Rapp said.

Dianne Burge, of Comcast Business Services, suggested offering incentives at the high school level to encourage computer "techies" to stay in the state.

Joe Simandi, an account executive with Comcast Business, said that too many businesses believe a security appliance will handle all their needs when in reality a plan is needed.

"We have leadership that's very aware. It's a collective risk that requires a collective response," Rapp said.

People who couldn't attend Thursday's session are asked to help the state with its cybersecurity efforts by filling out an online survey available at