WASHINGTON May 17, 2011- As part of National Small Business Week, the Federal Communications Commission assembled leading experts for a cybersecurity roundtable discussion on Monday and unveiled a set of new partnerships aimed at educating the public.
“A recent Symantec study found that American small businesses lose billions annually to cyber-attacks, and 74 percent of small and medium businesses reported being affected by cyber-attacks in the past 12 months,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “The average cost of each cyber-attack to small and medium sized businesses is nearly $200,000.”
As more business expand their online presence they become increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks which have ranged from the stealing of customer data to intellectual property theft.
Cheri McGuire, vice president of global government affairs & cybersecurity policy at Symantec said that a recent survey conducted by the company found that nearly 50 percent of small businesses do not have a cybersecurity plan and 40 percent claimed that that data protection was not an important tissue for them.
“Protecting data needs to become as common and important as putting money in a safe to protect it,” said former Secretary for Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. “The only way to fully protect from a cyber-attack is to not connect to the internet at all, but that is just not realistic. We must instead learn how to mitigate its effects and offer adequate protection.”
Chertoff suggested that small businesses take simple precautions, such as not using free Wi-Fi connections to conduct business transactions or ensuring that passwords are regularly changed as a baseline in protecting against attack.
Dr. Phyllis Schneck, chief technology officer at McAfee Public Sector, added that in addition to protecting the network from attack over the internet businesses need to be aware of their physical networks.
“Connecting a foreign USB key to a networked computer is the easiest way to gain entry into a secure network,” Schneck said. “This simple act of connecting unidentified hardware can easily bring down a network.”
In an effort to educate the business community the FCC announced that it will partner with U.S. Chamber of Commerce, McAfee, Symantec, SCORE and the National Urban League to develop a unified cybersecurity tip sheet.
“We wanted to create a single message to provide the best information possible without confusing people by offering different sets of guidelines,” Genachowski said.
The FCC also plans to hold a cybersecurity education event later this year in association with SCORE’s eBusiness Now program.
To expand education amongst the general public, the Commission plans to join the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE).
“The NICE partnership runs the Stop. Think. Connect. Campaign, which is designed to raise awareness among the American public about the need to strengthen cybersecurity—and to generate and communicate new approaches and strategies to help Americans increase their safety and security online,” Genachowski explained.
The FCC also issued a Tip Sheet which provides simple tasks people can take to protect themselves, including: “Secure your Wi-Fi networks” and “If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace make sure it is secure and hidden.”
The Tip Sheet along with additional information can be found at the newly launched CyberSecurity section of the FCC’s site, http://www.fcc.gov/cyberforsmallbiz