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Helping small businesses avoid cyberattacks

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York

A business doesn't have to be the size of a national department store chain to become the victim of a crippling cyberattack.

What's more, experts warn that 60% of small businesses that suffer such data breaches at the hands of cunning hackers will fail within six months.

On Tuesday, the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York, working closely with Niagara Community College's Small Business Development Centger, brought together local business owners, cybersecurity experts and representatives from business protection agencies. The goal of the forum at NCCC was to inform business owners of the risks they face. Among the topics of discussion were data security, cyberattacks and insurance.

“It’s not just the Targets and the Home Depots; any kind of business can be vulnerable to an attack,
 said Melanie McGovern, the bureau’s social media and communications coordinator. “I think we’re learning that as time goes on, that it’s not just the big box stores that are being hacked. It could be any business. I think these are just very conscientious business owners that are protecting not only themselves, but their customers as well.”

Hackers are typically after personal identification information, or PII – names, addresses, credit card information and social security numbers. Because of this, business owners are responsible for not only the safety of their business, but their customers’ safety as well. If a business suffers a cyber-attack, they are legally obligated to pay for the credit monitoring of customers. 

“It’s important for small business owners and their staff to recognize the signs of a hack, to know how to protect themselves, to avoid any email phishing, any ransomware, anything that could cause a breach to their system. We want them to be able to recognize it, and to avoid it at all costs.”

Email phishing is the most common tactic that hackers use to try to breach data. McGovern offers a rule of thumb: if it looks suspicious, don’t open it.

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