Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame are today hosting the inaugural Indiana Statewide Cybersecurity Summit for policymakers and business leaders to discuss opportunities for collaboration to fight cyber threats. More than $400 million was paid in ransom to cyberattackers in 2020, more than four times the rate in 2019. Scott Shackelford, chair of IU’s cybersecurity program, says the state’s academic and business communities are leveraging resources to combat cyberattacks.

In an interview on Inside INdiana Business, Shackelford said cyber threats are hitting home in Indiana.

“We were fortunate to help with with the Indiana Executive Council on cybersecurity this last year to produce our first-ever state-level snapshot to take a look at how businesses are faring with a variety of different cyber risks and how well they’re using best practices,” said Shackelford. “And we found, for example, that unfortunately, more than 20% of these businesses have reported experiencing a cyberattack within the last three year and of course, many unfortunately are just not aware that they had experienced such an attack.”

Eskenazi Health, Johnson Memorial Health and Hancock Regional Hospital have each been the victims of cyberattacks. Shackelford says there is still some confusion about what can be done to prevent such attacks and where the investments can be made to do it.

He adds adding to the workforce and getting people trained in key cybersecurity areas is another challenge.

“When you look across Indiana alone, there’s more than 2,300 open cybersecurity positions,” he said. “It’s a vital helping profession of the 21st Century that’s just going unfulfilled, so there’s a big negative unemployment rate and we at our Indiana universities are happy to help support and create that pipeline.”

The cybersecurity summit featured a keynote address from former U.S. Senator and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, as well as Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) Chief Information Security Officer Meredith Harper. Shackelford says the goal of the event is to give policymakers and business leaders the information they need to help make informed decisions.

Shackelford says the university partners hope to make the summit an annual gathering.