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Implementing necessary cybersecurity policies and practices paramount for small business owners

PMG FILE - Danielle Kane

Cybersecurity attacks are a scammer's way of trying to steal money or data from your business — or even from your customers.

A scammer's success could be a business' demise. The Better Business Bureau warns it is paramount for small business owners to implement necessary cybersecurity policies and practices. And they must also take the time to educate themselves and their staff.

According to Kaspersky Labs, a single data breach has a financial impact of $86,500 on small-to-medium size businesses. Many times, hackers want money or access to accounts. But more valuable than that is a businesses' data — the information of the business owner, as well as the personally identifiable information of their customers or clients. In addition to stealing money, a hacker would likely want the credit card information of the customers.

What's most important to note is that hackers don't always care about a business's data. They only want their accounts because they know it's valuable to the business. So, the question is, how valuable is the data to the business owner, and what are they willing to pay to get that data back? This tactic is a common cyber-attack we call ransomware.

Though ransomware is prevalent, BBB does not have just one cyber threat that wreaks the most havoc. All cybersecurity breaches cause damage to business owners. The breach can cause damage financially or to the businesses' reputation once the attack is made public. For business owners, probably the one the BBB sees

the most is malware, which is sent via a link or attachment to an

employee's email. When it's opened, a virus is downloaded onto the business's computer system, compromising the business's data in some way or giving the scammer access.

Therefore, it's critical to train employees. This training includes making business transactions a transparent event, where a manager or employee must check with others before making a significant transaction or releasing information. Additionally, businesses must regularly train employees on scams and how to handle the situation. And finally, keep the lines of communication open on this topic.

Now, you may be thinking, "I'm a small, family run business, what would a hacker want with me?" But don't believe you are not a target. Con artists rely on gaps in knowledge, awareness, and preparedness among small business owners and their employees to successfully perpetrate scams. The research available on the topic suggests that small businesses are particularly vulnerable to scams. Small business does not report scams, are likely to be subject to repeat attacks, and are particularly susceptible to online fraud. Yet another reason why the BBB advocates to have a cyber program in place.

Nine out of 10 businesses reported having some cybersecurity measures in place, according to the BBB 2017 State of Cybersecurity Among Small Businesses report. These measures included antivirus, firewall software, and employee education. Additionally, BBB Accredited Businesses are almost three times as likely to include cybersecurity insurance.

Danielle Kane is the Portland Marketplace Manager for Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. She can be reached at: 503-833-2301


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