Please read this advisory in order to protect your small business from ransomware. Train your Employees. The following tips will also help secure your small business:

  1. Protect against viruses, spyware, and other malicious code
    Make sure each of your business’s computers are equipped with antivirus software and antispyware and update regularly. Such software is readily available online from a variety of vendors. All software vendors regularly provide patches and updates to their products to correct security problems and improve functionality. Configure all software to install updates automatically.
  2. Secure your networks
    Safeguard your Internet connection by using a firewall and encrypting information.  If you have a Wi-Fi network, make sure it is secure and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.
  3. Establish security practices and policies to protect sensitive information on your networks
    Establish policies on how workers should handle and protect personally identifiable information and other sensitive data.  Clearly outline the consequences of violating your business’s cybersecurity policies.
  4. Educate team members about cybersecurity cyberthreats and hold them accountable 
    Educate your team members about online threats and how to protect your business’s data, including safe use of social networking sites.  Depending on the nature of your business, team members might be introducing competitors to sensitive details about your firm’s internal business. Team members should be informed about how to post online in a way that does not reveal any trade secrets to the public or competing businesses.  Hold employees accountable to the business’s Internet security policies and procedures.
  5. Require employees to use strong passwords and to change them often 
    Consider implementing multifactor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multifactor authentication for your account.
  6. Employ best practices on payment cards 
    Work with your banks or card processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations related to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and do not use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.Are you ready for the shift from magnetic-strip payment cards to safer, more secure chip card technology, also known as “EMV”? October 1st is the deadline set by major U.S. credit card issuers to be in compliance. Visit SBA.gov/EMV for more information and resources.
  7. Make backup copies of important business data and information
    Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly, and store the copies either offsite or on the cloud.
  8. Control physical access to computers and network components
    Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.
  9. Create a mobile device action plan
    Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network.. Require users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.
  10. Protect all pages on your public-facing websites, not just the checkout and sign-up pages

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Additional Cybersecurity Resources

Card-Present Fraud – October 1st Shift to EMV Chip Cards
Financial institutions and their customers are targets of ever-evolving fraud schemes. This is a concern for small businesses seeking to protect their organization’s payment transactions.  To combat credit card fraud, the U.S. is migrating from outdated magnetic strip technology to chip cards, also known as EMV.  This requires new hardware and software upgrades for merchants.  Starting October 1st, the liability for card-present fraud will shift to whichever party is the least EMV-compliant in certain fraudulent transactions.  Visit SBA.gov/EMV to learn more.

Cybersecurity Training Database 
Offered by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS), this searchable Training Database contains a robust listing of more than 1,300 cybersecurity or cybersecurity-related education and training courses offered in the U.S.

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Professional Cybersecurity Certifications
Through its National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS), DHS has developed a list of nearly 20 organizations across the country that provide certifications needed for entry or promotion in the cybersecurity career field.  Learn more about Professional Cybersecurity Certifications.

NIST Cybersecurity Framework
Recognizing that the national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable functioning of critical infrastructure, the President issued Executive Order 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, in February 2013. It directed NIST to work with stakeholders to develop a voluntary framework – based on existing standards, guidelines, and practices – for reducing cyber risks to critical infrastructure.  Learn more about the Framework and its application for small businesses.

Business Guide – Protecting Personal Information: FTC

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