The FTC’s findings—and what they’re doing about it—regarding small businesses and cybersecurity

By Richard Arneson

By now, most of us are aware that cyber threats don’t discriminate. Any business, regardless of size, industry, location, et al., is a potential target. The media, of course, is going to focus on breaches that affect huge, public-facing, high-profile corporations whose names are recognizable (Target, Uber, LinkedIn, JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, to name only a few). And that media focus can make small, even mid-sized, business owners feel like they’re somewhat hidden and tucked away, like a homeowner who’s selected a neighborhood off the beaten path. With cyber attacks, however, everybody’s on the path.

In fact, small businesses suffer more malware infections than their larger counterparts, and, according to the Ponemon Institute’s report 2017 State of Cybersecurity in Small- and Medium-sized businesses, that number is on the rise. At the time of its writing, small businesses had experienced a sixty-one percent (61%) rise in attacks during the prior twelve (12) months; in 2016, it was up fifty-five percent (55%). While it’s probably giving cyberattackers too much credit to believe they single out and target small businesses (they tend to utilize a spray and pray technique), there’s no question—small businesses are getting caught in the crossfire.

The is doing something about it

October was cybersecurity month, which seems a little odd. Every month should be cybersecurity month. Every day should be cybersecurity month, if that makes sense. And the FTC agrees.

Over the last twelve (12) months, the FTC crisscrossed the country conducting interviews and having discussions with small- to mid-sized business owners. Those discussions brought to light one (1) primary theme as it relates to small businesses and cyber threats—they are bringing a knife to a gunfight. They saw the immediate need to launch a cybersecurity resource for small businesses to help ensure they’re protected, or at least heading in the right security-related direction.

The FTC teamed up with the Small Business Administration (SBA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop clear, easy-to-use resources, which includes training, quizzes and videos on the following key security topics:

  • Cybersecurity Basics
  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework
  • Physical Security
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing
  • Business Email and Email Authentication
  • Tech Support Scams
  • Vendor Security
  • Cyber Insurance
  • Web Hosting
  • Remote Access

Yes, security threats abound, but they’re not just related to external threats. According to another study by the Ponemon Institute, over seventy-five percent (75%) of businesses largely remain unprotected from malicious insiders and employees lacking proper security education. Security is a lot to think about, but don’t wait until next October to learn about how to protect your organization. Remember, every day is security month! And to get started, you can learn here how to give your business a security self-exam.

Don’t leave it up to chance

To find out more about the many threats that may soon target, or are currently targeting, your organization, contact GDT’s tenured and talented at SOC@GDT.com. From their Security- and Network Operations Centers, they manage, monitor and protect the networks of companies of all sizes, including those for some of the most notable enterprises, service providers, healthcare organizations and government agencies in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

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