Article By Hannah Gatens
Sixty percent. Sound like a lot? It is. Especially when you’re talking about the percentage of small companies that are unable to sustain their business within six months of a cyber crime attack, which according to the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance, is the case.
Often times, companies aren’t able to recover financially, or from a reputation perspective, once consumer information is compromised or data is breached.
The best way to prevent a cyber attack?
Our friends at Sera-Brynn, a Suffolk, Va.-based cyber security firm, tell us there’s no better way than through knowledge, preparation and implementation of prevention measures.
And that’s exactly what Sera-Brynn does.
Consociate has been fortunate in recent years to work with a variety of businesses looking to expand their services and presence online. It’s at the heart of much of what we do.
Whether it’s bringing more attention to their company via content marketing to enhance their visibility on search engines, engaging with current and prospective customers via social media or driving awareness through inbound marketing tactics, the digital world is no longer the next frontier for businesses. It’s today’s frontier.
Recently, John Kipp of Sera-Brynn sat down with Consociate and broke down cyber security and why it’s important, especially for small businesses engaging in social marketing or e-commerce.
Cyber Security – What is it?
Cyber security is the mechanism that maximizes an ability to grow commerce, communications, community and content in a connected world…SAFELY.
Cyber threats come can come from anywhere, Sera-Brynn writes on its web site, to include hackers, malware, phishing, social engineering, and even insiders such as rogue or oblivious employees as well as contracted vendors.
Note the commerce comment above.
Many companies, any that accept credit card payments to be precise, need to meet the qualifications of a Payment Card Industry (PCI). PCI is a security standard that companies using e-commerce need to comply with. Basically, Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover, and the Japanese-based JCB, banded together and created their own set of security features, and anyone who stores information with a credit card will have to comply with those security standards. Security is part of that compliance.
“It’s obviously a good idea to implement cyber security to protect customers and their financial information,” Kipp said.
“A main thing that drives business owners with cyber security is protecting themselves from lawsuits, litigation and fines. If someone steals a bunch of clothes, a company can just make an insurance claim, but if somebody steals customer credit card data, it gets much worse because a business will have to tell their customers and, of course, it gets extremely expensive.”
Cyber Attacks On Networks and “Zero Day”
Heard the warning not to click on links in emails from people you don’t recognize?
Cyber threats can manifest themselves in different ways, but commonly, people are sent “bogus” links to click on and once they do, malware gets loaded.
In best-case scenarios, antivirus software will catch it, but many times a “zero day” is attached. This is not a comic book title with bad guys and super heroes, even though it sounds like that.
Rather, a “zero day” is a virus that antivirus software doesn’t yet know about and therefore can’t fight.
For a period of time, before “zero day” viruses can be identified, many people will get “zapped” by it. A “zero day” is extremely difficult to catch, Kipp said, because you need something that will basically monitor network behavior in order to catch it. That level of monitoring isn’t always available, especially for small businesses.
What can you do yourself?
Simple ways for businesses – from those on Main Street AND Wall Street – to practice cyber security include:
- Protecting files with a password
- Being creative with passwords
- Always locking computers by pressing CTRL+ALT+DELETE and hitting “ENTER” before walking away
- Not downloading files from unknown sources
- Always checking credentials of anyone working on your computers
- Using caution when opening email attachments
- Securing wireless routers
- Not letting spammers see your “out of office” replies
While these tips barely scratch the surface of things businesses can do to remain as secure as possible, there are many more ways to arm yourself. Like testing how secure you are BEFORE an attack happens. That’s something that Kipp and Sera-Brynn offers.
It’s called a vulnerability assessment, which according to their web site, is “accomplished through the use of products, tools, and techniques to identify, document, and assess vulnerabilities on servers, workstations, mobile technology, and other devices on a network.”
Regardless the size of a network, Sera-Brynn can assess all the systems, data, and applications on it for vulnerabilities. They provided a detailed report of any vulnerabilities they find and from there, Sera-Brynn prioritizes them based on the level of risk they pose to the business and provide solutions to either eliminate or mitigate them through compensating controls.
All About Prevention and Protection Of You…AND YOUR CUSTOMERS!
If companies do takes steps to protect themselves, their networks and their businesses, and a cyber threat does occur, they will undoubtedly benefit in the long run.
“Say, for example, that a business is up-to-date with compliance laws and they do get breached and people are after them with law suits, well that company can say we did everything we were supposed to,” Kipp said.
That’s what any company wants to be able to tell their customers if they undergo a breach for any reason. There could be more options for breached companies who took all of the steps to protect their information.
To learn more, to ask questions or to get some help, give Kipp and his team a call. Tell them we sent you.
Incident Response Hotline: (855) 514-6048
5806 Harbour View Blvd. Suite 204
Suffolk, Virginia 23435
Unless arranged otherwise, Sera-Brynn treats ALL information you share with them as confidential regardless whether you choose to do business with them or not.