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Cyber security is a growing issue for businesses of all sizes as more move to the cloud

SCREENSHOT: FIREEYE CYBER THREAT MAP - A screenshot of the FireEye Cyber Threat Map at shows real-time stats of cyber attacks going on across the globe.Cyber security attacks, including ransomware, are affecting small and large businesses alike, more and more. This is especially common as more companies have gone remote recently and need to move their data to the cloud.

As with everything in the tech sector, cyber security — as well as pirating and hacking — has seen major exponential advancements in the past few years.

A serious problem that arises when your business data is not secure is that all your data — from your clients, employees, and HR to your products or services — is at risk.

A November report from the Better Business Bureau cited two new major corporations who have been victimized this quarter, including Chicago-based Ferrara Candy and Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates TV stations in Oregon, Montana, Washington, and Idaho.

The BBB reported that both companies worked with law enforcement, will likely see long-lasting impacts, and are now taking more steps toward cyber security.

And not only large businesses are victims of cyber attacks these days: 46% of small businesses have experienced security breaks or ransomware incidents, according to the BBB. According to the Cyber Readiness Institute, more than 50% of all organizations have experienced an online cyber attack — and more than 66% of these that are medium or small businesses fail to recover after.

Cybercrime is estimated to have collected $6 trillion in 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015, according to a Global Cybercrime report, a global cyber economy researcher, which said this represents the greatest economic wealth transfer in history.

In early December, Portland State University School of Business hosted a quarterly seminar for grad students and professionals on the topic of "Cybersecurity for Business: A Fast-Evolving Landscape".

At the seminar, a panel of experts dissected trends and priorities on topics including the nature of threats and risks, the regulatory and policy landscape, toolkits of solutions, leadership strategies and the talent pipeline.

Panelist Venky Venkateswaran, director of client security strategy at Intel, said small business owners need to practice attacking themselves to understand their environment and weak spots.

"If you don't have the expertise to go through those war games, you should basically leave it to the experts and maybe outsource critical infrastructure," Venkateswaran said. "All the new regulations will only get us to a certain extent. There's going to be a lot more people getting education on how to defend, and what tools they have at their disposal and what they have under control is going to be a critical aspect."

Venkateswaran said businesses already have their hands full in terms of protecting company assets and keeping employees safe, but now that cyber security threats have advanced, companies need new tools to evolve to the complexities, and get things done in a new way.

"Essentially, the landscape from a cybersecurity perspective has been extremely fast-changing. Gone are the days when you had someone in their mom's basement trying to break into computer systems for fun," Venkateswaran said. "Now you have nation-state actors wanting to take you down. Especially the environment that we live in right now, or at least the last couple of years especially with Covid, the way we work is all transitioning."

Panelist Reet Kaur is the chief information security officer of Portland Community College, and formerly the director of information security governance at Nike.

"With the additional transformation many organizations have gone through during covid times, businesses need to understand that security is no longer a tech risk — it's a business risk, so they should stop treating it as a cost center," Kaur said. "Without security, the organizations may not be able to operate for long. Their data is at risk; their intellectual property is also at risk."

However, more company security can come at the cost of infringing on individual privacy by monitoring company devices, which can pose problems for small business owners. While government crackdowns across the globe on cyber security regulations to address these concerns are generally considered positive in the long run, they are proving challenging for security professionals.

"Dependence on the cloud is significantly and rapidly decreasing in the context of this pandemic era that we live in," Venkateswaran said. "Cybersecurity threats as you move more into the cloud is an entirely different beast, and people need to be thinking long and hard about those things. Those are definitely top of mind for us — working on what kind of tools we need to go build for the future to help the defenders of the galaxy."

Panelist Teza Mukkavilli, chief security officer at San Francisco-based electric mobility company ChargePoint, said one example is not being able to buy telecom equipment from China anymore after a June 2021 Federal Communications Commission mandate.

"For a company like ChargePoint, we have 170 different companies that run in that station, we do get components from all across the world, and it creates disruptions all across our clients. How do we manage code from different bodies coming in?" Mukkavilli said.

Mukkavilli said the U.S. ban on Chinese telecom equipment for security reasons is great from a longterm standpoint, but also creates a lot of pressure in the interim with the deadline being in only about 12 months.

"There definitely needs to be public-private partnerships to develop the cybersecurity our country and the world needs," Venkateswaran said.

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