SDN Blog

Free event will help small businesses fight big cyber threats

Posted on Tuesday, October 04, 2016 in Cybersecurity

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BBB of SD Cybersecurity Event

Cyberattacks on small businesses are increasingly frequent and larger in impact. Criminals from countries around the world are constantly looking for electronic information of value or trying to disrupt commerce.

“If you haven’t been attacked yet, it’s just a matter of time,” says Jake VanDewater, director of network operations at SDN Communications in Sioux Falls.

VanDewater is among four cybersecurity experts who will speak at a breakfast event designed to help small businesses protect their electronic assets from hackers and data breaches. In addition to VanDewater, three regional law enforcement and academic experts will speak at the Better Business Bureau’s free event.

The “Protecting Your Business’s Data: It’s Every Employee’s Responsibility” event is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Oct. 19 at the Avera Prairie Center in Sioux Falls. A continental breakfast will be available.

Business owners and managers can register for free using the button below.


SDN, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center and KELOLAND-TV are partnering with the BBB to put on the event. SDN is the lead partner. This is the fourth year that the BBB has hosted the event.

“What we’re really looking to highlight this year are the threats that are escalating for small businesses, and what those costs are to the businesses,” says Jessie Schmidt, state director of the BBB. “Small businesses owners should come to the event with their eyes wide open so they can understand the pitfalls for those that don’t take action.”

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are one of the newest and fastest growing threats confronting small businesses, VanDewater says. They try to clog or disable targeted sites by overloading them with malicious traffic. The right network safeguards usually can block those kind of attacks.

In most companies, employees are the most vulnerable layer of network security. Correcting that weakness takes good training.

“Some of the biggest attacks that have occurred have been the result of an insecure password or someone clicking on a rogue link,” says Dr. Ashley Podhradsky. “Some organizations might think they’re immune to it, but they’re not.”

Podhradsky is an associate professor of digital forensics at Dakota State University. She’ll talk about shortcomings in staffing in the public and private sectors.

Regardless of the size of an organization, cybersecurity is every employee’s responsibility, from the CEO on down, says Podhradsky.

Other speakers will include an FBI agent from the department’s Minneapolis office. He or she – the speaker’s identity hasn’t been disclosed yet – will talk about activity at the national and international level.

James Legg, an agent with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, will talk about what’s going on in the state. He works with the South Dakota Fusion Center, which compiles, analyzes and disseminates information to help prevent and investigate criminal activity.

The BBB event is a fitting opportunity to hold in October, which is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and small businesses are a good target audience because they account for most of the businesses in South Dakota. By federal definition, small businesses generally are those with fewer than 500 employees or have less than $7.5 million in average annual receipts.

Watch the presentations from 2015's Cybersecurity Program