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Free cybersecurity resources, advice now available for small businesses

FTC Cybersecurity for Small Business

Cybercriminals don’t just target big companies. That’s become evident in recent years. Small businesses might be even bigger targets because, generally, they can’t devote as many resources to protecting themselves.

Even so, by now most small businesses probably have at least a basic cybersecurity plan in place. Right? Probably not.

There always are stragglers, and new businesses are constantly starting up. Meanwhile, hackers and con artists are refining their tactics and high-tech tools to pry into business files and steal information.

The ultimate reality is that implementing effective cybersecurity protection is a job that’s never really done. Even the best strategies have to reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

In late 2018, the Federal Trade Commission launched a new awareness campaign and resource platform designed to help small businesses with the important undertaking. The FTC program spun out of need and National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which has been observed every October since 2003.

The FTC offers free advice online to help small businesses fight threats such as phishing schemes, ransomware attacks and tech support scams. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Small Business Administration (SBA) also participate.

The information is available online at Materials include fact sheets, videos and quizzes. The FTC advises businesses take some simple steps to reduce the risk of cyberattack including:

  • Update software, including apps, web browsers and operating systems.
  • Secure files by backing up important information on an external hard drive or in the cloud.
  • Require passwords on connected devices and don’t leave the devices unattended.
  • Encrypt devices that contain sensitive information.
  • Use multi-factor authentication, such as requiring an extra code or key to access programs with sensitive information.

Another part of the FTC website points out that responsibility for cybersecurity in a small business goes beyond the company’s owners, managers and IT specialists. To reduce the risk of cyberattacks, every employee should know the basics of cybersecurity. That’s extremely important.

2019 Sioux Falls Cybersecurity Conference

A timely option available to help small businesses in the Sioux Falls area understand risks and protect themselves is the 2019 Sioux Falls Cybersecurity Conference. The event hosted by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for April 18 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

The conference will run from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 18 at 1201 N. West Ave. Tickets are available online for $85 per person.

Presentations will include a live hacking demonstration by ethical hackers from Dynetics, an Alabama company that specializes in cyber services. Bill Walker of ID Shield will talk about identity theft. One of the keynote speakers will be Bryce Austin, author of bestselling book Secure Enough?

“Hacks are going to happen,” Austin writes in a chapter about where cybersecurity is headed. “Most of them will happen to those that take cybersecurity a little less seriously than others in the same industry. If you keep your organization a bit more cybersecure than your competition, you will have a competitive advantage when they are derailed by a cyberattack and you are not.”

SDN Communications is the gold sponsor of the conference.

SDN Communications is a regional leader in providing broadband connectivity and cybersecurity services to businesses in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington and the surrounding areas.

Related blog: Watch a hacker at work during Cybersecurity Conference live demonstration