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Cyber Security Alliance Helps Small Businesses Address Security Risks

Increasing awareness through education, free resources, and active engagements

Across all industries, small businesses are increasingly facing new threats related to cyber security. Whereas some have taken minimum steps to address these threats but most have not. New security threats and incidents are reported every day in news reports and a many remain unreported. This underscores the need for cyber security education of small business owners and managers. These threats have potentially serious consequences and could lead to unrecoverable damage to small businesses.

What are some consequences of the lack of basic cyber security controls?

  • Loss or stolen customer data
  • Loss of intellectual property
  • Decreased productivity
  • Legal liability
  • Regulatory sanctions and fines
  • Computer systems downtime
  • Loss of reputation and customer confidence
  • Loss of revenue
  • Banking Fraud

Could this happen to you?
It is very important to understand that neither size nor industry guarantees protection from an attack. The use of computer systems and the Internet makes you vulnerable to attacks and other threats.

A 2010 survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute and Guardian Analytics of over 500 SMBs surfaced these alarming statistics:

  • 55% experienced a fraud attack in the last year
  • 58% of the incidents involved online banking
  • Over 50% experienced multiple incidents
  • 87% failed to fully recover lost funds

You are not a big, well known business. Why would anyone attack you?
While it might be the case that well trained hackers are not very interested in your small company, most online attacks aren't carried out by expert hackers. Attacks are perpetrated by low-skilled, common criminals with access to pre-packaged hacking tools, thereby casting a wide net in hopes of finding an unprotected computer system or network. These tools are easy to use and readily available on the Internet, often times free of charge. The anonymity of a cyber attack makes it even more attractive to criminals. Many attackers use safe havens in foreign countries which do not have strong cyber crime laws.

Malicious software like viruses, worms, trojan horses, spam, bots are all vectors of cyber attacks that are indiscriminately spreading across the Internet. These attacks don't only target your small business computer systems but also seek to use your unprotected systems to launch attack on others.

Hasn't IT guy(s) already dealt with this issue?
Although cyber security includes traditional "IT"related issues, it primarily focuses on protecting your valuable information from all threats including physical attacks, data corruption, equipment failure, social engineering, and bad security choices due to insufficient security awareness education. Effective cyber security management requires specific training related to threats, vulnerabilities, and risks affecting computer systems, business operational processes, and most importantly you and your employees. One's security problems cannot be addressed solely by off the shelf products. Security must be addressed in the boardroom before it is addressed in the computer room.

What are the benefits and cost of cyber security?
Besides avoiding some of the devastating consequences mentioned earlier, good security is simply good business. It does far more than increase customer confidence and protects the integrity of your businesses brand. A secure business increases customer confidence, loyalty and adds to the businesses bottom line.

Responsible businesses understand that risk management mandates that all threats, including cyber threats, be assessed and managed to protect the business, employees and customers.

The potential cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action. Analyzing your businesses risks allows you to weigh the costs and benefits and make informed decisions.

Where do you start? Where can you get help?
Although improving your security may seem a daunting task, it doesn't have to be. Increasing cyber security awareness helps small and medium sized businesses proactively implement simple best practices to protect their businesses. Security should be built into your business processes, information technology (IT), and most importantly your employees and contractors. Each business is unique and faces challenges particular to their operations. There is no magic pill that guarantees 100% security. The SMB Cyber Security Alliance have security experts available to help you understand your unique risks and implement solutions that work your your particular business environment.

Visit us today and sign up for your free membership at http://www.smbcybersecurity.org

The SMB Cyber Security Alliance is volunteer-run organization seeking to increase cyber security awareness in small business communities through education, awareness training, free resources and consultations, and active engagements between small business owners and local security professionals.

More Stories By William McBorrough

William J McBorrough is a Security Expert with many years of success Managing, Designing, and Implementing medium and large enterprise Physical and Information Technology Security Solutions. His experience spans the spectrum from small e-commerce start-ups to multi-campus state and federal agencies to multi-state financial sector organizations. He is also on the faculty of various universities including University of Maryland University College, EC-Council University, George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College where he conducts research and teach graduate and undergraduate courses relating to cybersecurity, cybercrime, cyberterrorism, and information security and assurance. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Computing Engineering with a concentration in digital networks and a Masters of Science in Information Security and Assurance. He is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified in Risk Information System Control (CRISC), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).He is well versed in personnel, systems and network security risk management. His core competancies include Developing cost effective solutions to enable mission assurance in the following areas: Enterprise Risk Management, IT Governance, Security Organization Development, Information Security and Assurance