TACOMA, Wash. - The Northwest Cybersecurity Symposium was held on the campus of the University of Washington-Tacoma May 5, to inform and provoke discussions of the importance of unifying industries and government on the readiness and protecting our nations network systems.

This event gave cybersecurity professionals from government, business and education sectors a forum to discuss changes in the U.S. strategy in dealing with cyberattacks.

Lieutenant General Edward C. Cardon, commander of the U.S. Army Cyber Command, was one of the keynote speakers. He urged that all sectors of business and military to maintain a partnership on improving network security.

"When you add together the threats, vulnerabilities; and the fact that most of the networks inside the United States are privately owned; this is not just a government problem," said Cardon. "It's a national problem. Defending the nations critical networks and infrastructure against cyberthreats and vulnerabilities is more than a whole government approach; it demands a whole nation approach. It demands cooperation and collaboration with all sectors of government, industry and the academics community."

President Barrack Obama issued Executive Order 13691, which sparked conversations of improving and safeguarding the networks and systems of the U.S. through a team effort from businesses and government back in February 2015.

Recent cyberattacks on various businesses have shown that even major corporations are vulnerable to threats.

"Most attacks currently are targeting small and mid-size business," said Michael Echols, director of the Cyber Joint Program Management Office Department of Homeland Security. "It's not like winning the lottery for them [small and mid-sized businesses] to be attacked. Most business owners don't get that they are a target for [a] criminal enterprise."

"Clearly, partnership is a key to us getting an upper-hand on the cybersecutity threat," said Echols. "Partnership is required because most of the technologies comes out of industry and most of the networks are owned by industry."

Information sharing is also key to facilitate teamwork environment in safeguarding against cyberthreat.

Local military bases are instrumental in a major network threat situation. They become critical "forts" just like 200 years ago, as a centralized hub for command area said Echols.

"They may have the most upgraded technologies and those communication mechanism that will help to keep the nation responding in a critical cyberattack," said Echols.

Major Jay McIsaac, an electronic warfare officer assigned to I Corps, said being able to gather with a group of cyber-professionals is a big part of improving awareness and continuing the cybersecurity discussion.

Soldiers of I Corps partner with countries around the pacific region regularly and are scheduled to train alongside the Australian army in Talisman Sabre.

"I Corps is partnering with Cyber Command in preparing for the Talisman Sabre exercise," said McIsaac. "Representatives from cyber command will be coming to Joint Base Lewis-McChord as part of our Talisman Sabre academics and providing a presentation on their capabilities and what they provide for the Army."

While Collaboration between sectors of business have improved in the South Puget Sound region with the cyber available resources from both JBLM and the Washington State National Guard Headquarters, the effort to improve cybersecurity and protecting our nations infrastructure and network systems must continue to evolve, said Michael Hamilton, policy adviser for the State of Washington Office of the Chief Information Officer.

"I don't believe we are as connected as we should be to the West Coast," said Cardon in his final remarks. "And that's a part of why I'm here today at this forum, because we need to be better connected."