Data breaches and other cyber security threats pose a serious risk for all businesses, large and small, but many business owners are not aware of the full extent of the dangers lurking on the wire. Criminals are switching some of their focus towards targeting small business networks, intellectual property and customers’ information as larger companies increase their security capabilities. The average cost of an online attack is around $200,000, according to a recent study by security software company Symantec.
Raising awareness of a real threat to the vitality of all businesses is an important but difficult task. The Federal Communications Commission is launching an initiative to help small businesses understand the risks associated with using the Internet as a business and communication medium. The commission on Monday unveiled a new website, “Cybersecurity for Small Business,” and a tipsheet of actions for small businesses to better protect themselves.
“It’s a culture change. It’s going to take a long time,” , VP of national security and emergency preparedness for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Ann Beauchesnesaid said. “Basically the message for small businesses is, yes, the Internet’s a great tool but you need to protect yourselves.” Eliminating the risk of online attacks is virtually impossible, so it is vital to minimize the risks that could lead to a breach. It has been easy for people to ignore online security issues, because attacks have been focused on the larger organizations, and the security issues are technical and complicated. The FCC’s measures will help empower people to understand that they can tackle these problems.
News of these security issues should be nothing new for SMBs, the catstrophic results have been all over the mainstream press, and the warnings have been posted all over the Internet on blogs like this one. It is about time that formal governing bodies sat up and took action. I applaud the FCC for this effort, and hope that legislation proposed by Barrack Obama and others starts the ball rolling in the US. This website may offer simple and basic security advice, but it is a start. The Canadian government and businesses had better take notice and start studying the lessons learned that have driven the US to at least scratch a line in the sand, dotted and snaggle-toothed as it may be.
I know that there will be cries of “Oh no, the government can’t control the Internet, FREE SPEECH!” Well, nobody else is fixing it, so if you can’t control it, big brother will do it for you. I’m personally sick and tired of allowing these lawless, callous, malicious and uncaring indivduals from crapping in my online sandbox and getting away with it. I’ve seen some of the damage that they can do, and no one is immune to the effects. Family members have had accounts drained, friends have experienced ID-Theft. Small business owners have had their systems hacked, and folded up shop as a result. Canadian government, BRING IT ON! Let’s clean up our sandbox too.
Proceedings of the FCC Roundtable are available here.