Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SBA Underscores President’s Cybersecurity Plan; Provides Resources for Small Business Owners

By Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator

Cyber-attacks against business and government seem to be unending, and recent hacks to Sony and Central Command have elevated our need to safeguard against potential threats to our online information, records and documents.

President Obama has announced a legislative proposal that will make it easier for businesses and government to share information about possible cyber-attacks and security vulnerabilities. “Our first order of business is making sure that we do everything to harden sites and prevent those kinds of attacks from taking place,” the President said in a statement.

At the SBA, we have taken steps to strengthen our public and private sector partnerships on cybersecurity to help small businesses learn how to secure their business information, identify security threats and guard against cyber-attacks.

The SBA, in partnership with NIST and FBI, has conducted cybersecurity workshops for entrepreneurs and small business owners across the country. Our partnership was renewed in December, and we are coordinating the 2015 calendar of workshops.

Small businesses are becoming a larger target for criminals looking to access sensitive data because attackers are aware that small businesses have limited resources dedicated to information system security.

The protection of sensitive data such as business invoices, payroll records, client and employee data and other proprietary information is essential to the success of a small business. Business owners need to know how to identify information security vulnerabilities that can put their companies at risk.

In an effort to combat cyber-attacks against small businesses, SBA is helping to provide the protective tools and techniques needed to maintain and guard business information and systems. We have developed an online course called Cybersecurity for Small Businesses to help educate businesses on securing online information and evaluating the needed security tools and techniques.

The online course teaches how to identify the types of customer information that should be secured, how to guard against intentional attacks or even unintentional damage, and offers practical steps to take to protect a business’ operations.

Do not assume that your business is not at risk. Many small business owners run a large part of their business over the Internet, without any security features. As a business owner, you should understand that while there are advantages to taking your business online, certain risks come with it.

We encourage business owners to learn more about the security practices to be mindful of when online, as well as the ways to protect business information and networks in the event of a cyber-attack. Other factors, like creating contingency plans, setting up firewalls and creating back-ups are all essential to cybersecurity protection.

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