In recent years, high profile data breaches and cyber-attacks have garnered headlines worldwide. Most recently, the 2016 presidential campaign has kept the issue in the forefront of the public’s consciousness.
Lost in splashy headlines and high-profile breaches has been the reality: small businesses are prime targets for cyber-attacks. Small businesses are often an entry point for hackers into larger companies or the Federal government. They possess valuable data information hackers want, but often lack the budget and staff to mount advanced cyber defenses.
According to a 2016 Business Leaders Outlook study from Chase for Business, cybersecurity is a top concern for Hispanic business leaders, with 29 percent “very concerned” and 23 percent “extremely concerned.”
The College of Business’ Florida SBDC at Florida International University (FIU) is doing its part to better prepare Miami-Dade County small businesses against cyber-attacks and data breaches.
On January 11th, the Florida SBDC at FIU partnered with Chase for Business to address the topic at the “Keep Up Your Guard: Cyber Threats & How to Protect Your Business” event. Over 140 attendees heard from speakers including representatives from the U.S. Secret Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and JPMorgan Chase.
Held at the Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne, the presentation was part of Chase’s “Connecting Minds” event series, designed to help Hispanic small business owners in Miami and Houston bolster their success through access to relationships, experts in critical topics, and resources to fund and grow their businesses.
“It’s important for small business owners to be aware of the potential for cyber threats, and we want to arm them with tools and resources needed to protect their business,” said Diane Rogerson, director, CCB Information Technology Risk and Controls for JPMorgan Chase.
Keynote speaker Charles “Brad” Leopard, supervisor of the Miami Electronic Crimes Task Force with the U.S. Secret Service, discussed the cyber threat landscape for small businesses.
Attendees watched a live hack demonstration from Rod Soto, security researcher at HackMiami, a “white-hat” hacker group. He simulated an attack and account takeover of an organization’s Google account and apps. This provided attendees with an understanding of how social engineering works and how criminals can take over and retrieve account information in under ten minutes.
Closing out the event was a panel discussion moderated by Brian Fonseca, Director of FIU’s Jack D. Gordon Institute. Panelists discussed emerging cyber threats for small businesses, including ransomware and the dangers of storing information via cloud computing. They also provided guidance for entrepreneurs looking to bolster their cyber defenses such as improving password protection and using two-step authentication measures.
The biggest vulnerability? Employees.
“Cybercriminals increasingly target employees from across all levels of the organization,” said Fonseca, an expert on national security and cybersecurity. “Businesses, especially small businesses without rigorous cybersecurity protection, must ensure that employees adopt behaviors that reduce threats to data, such as using multi-factor authentication for passwords, not clicking suspicious links, and maintaining offline back-ups.”
Strengthening Miami-Dade County Small Business Cyber Defenses
According to a 2016 IBM/Ponemon Institute study, the average cost of a data breach to small businesses is $38,000, with an average cost per breached record at $221/customer. These potential costs include legal fees, investigation fees, fines, insurance premium hikes, and the loss of customers. Businesses that weather the hack often do not survive the fallout.
This year’s event with Chase built off of another successful cybersecurity workshop the SBDC at FIU held in conjunction with FBI Miami in March 2016. Presenters unveiled guides to assist business owners facing a breach as well as those looking to improve online security.
In November 2016, the center rolled out a 25-minute cybersecurity webinar targeted specifically at small businesses. The webinar is presented by Florida SBDC at FIU associate director Brian Van Hook, who received an Executive Certificate in Cybersecurity Leadership & Strategy from FIU.
Did you know?
Protecting your critical data/systems against cyber-attacks:
- Use and maintain anti-virus software and a firewall
- Regularly scan your computer and keep any software up-to-date
- Make sure any Wi-Fi networks are secure and hidden
- Establish office-wide policies for handling and storing sensitive work-related information (i.e. clean desk policy, procedures for posting online, routinely changing passwords, encryption)
- Regularly update employees on new threats and share new procedures to combat them
- If you have any sensitive records, consider storing them offline