FTC Aims to Educate Small Business Owners on Cybersecurity

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve surely heard about various hacks and other cyberattacks affecting retailers, movie studios, and of course the Democratic National Committee. However many small business owners still either believe they’ll be less likely target than larger companies or simply don’t have the time or money to train themselves on the risks of cyber crime. That’s why the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently launched a new site dedicated to educating entrepreneurs about cyber security.

The site — FTC.gov/SmallBusiness — not only provides small businesses owners with tips for protecting their company’s information but also walks them through what steps should be taken if a breach is discovered. It also compiles previously created content detailing specific types of threats such as phishing and ransomware. As FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen said of the new landing page,  “This innovative new website is a one-stop shop where small businesses can find information to protect themselves from scammers and hackers, as well as resources they can use if they are hit with a cyberattack.”

So why should small businesses worry about cyberattacks in the first place? As it turns out they are actually frequent targets, likely because criminals assume they’re less likely to take precautions. Furthermore the number of attacks targeting small businesses is climbing. According to a 2016 report by Symantec such businesses went from being the target of just 18% of spear-phishing attacks in 2011 to represent 43% of attacks in 2015. In these cases, businesses, their employees, and their customers all faced the risk of having their information stolen and potentially used for other crimes such as identity theft.  

A growing concern is the threat of ransomware. The recent WannaCry ransomware attack infected over 230,000 systems worldwide and raised awareness of just how devastating a ransomware attack can be. The FBI projects that ransomware will generate $1billion a year for cybercriminals. Backblaze – a cloud backup provider, recently published an interesting infographic on the rise of ransomware.

While cyberattacks are a growing threat and one that many entrepreneurs may not fully comprehend, small businesses are also still a popular target for less technologically advanced forms of fraud. That’s why the new FTC site also includes information on known scams and how businesses can spot them in the wild. Like with the cyber security section, this also contains a library of videos that will teach you more about various types of fraud and what to do if you find yourself a victim of a scam.

This new FTC site is not just a great resource for small business owners looking to learn more about cybersecurity and scams but also offers a wealth of knowledge that can be passed onto employees. In fact, in many cases, your staff will serve as your first line of defense in preventing cyberattacks and attempted fraud. For that reason it’s definitely worth reviewing the materials provided by the FTC and creating your curriculum that will ensure that your employees are as knowledgeable on the subjects as you are. 

Before your business becomes the victim of a cybercrime or good old fashioned scam, be sure to check out the new FTC small business site and learn what to look for and how to protect yourselves — You, your staff, and your patrons will be glad you did.

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Author

Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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