4 Takeaways from The FBI's National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October 30, 2018

Cybersecurity threats are a great concern for both small businesses and government agencies. Over the past few years, social media platforms, credit bureaus and businesses of all sizes have been affected by casual and highly coordinated cybersecurity attacks by lone hackers and governments.

To increase the overall cybersecurity know-how of people in the United States, the FBI sponsors National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. If you are involved in IT and cybersecurity circles, you likely have heard about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Something as simple as accessing sensitive information on a public network can lead to far-reaching cybersecurity consequences, so the FBI dedicates a whole month to information campaigns about threats in cyberspace.

The month-long event was created in 2004 through a partnership between the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Department of Homeland Security.[1] The purpose of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is to bring together the brightest minds from law enforcement, government bureaus and the private sector to create clever solutions to digital security challenges.

Here are 4 key takeaways from the FBI’s national Cybersecurity Awareness Month all small business owners should know. 

Small Business Cybersecurity Tips

Cybersecurity threats can cost U.S. companies up to $25 million each year, so staying ahead of the hackers is simply good business.[2] The fact is, small business cyber security is something you should think about every day. Here are some takeaways from cyber security month that can keep you safe throughout the year. 

1.    Computer Safety  is Key 

The best defense against small business cybersecurity threats is information. As mentioned in Hiscox’s 2018 Small Business Cyber Risk report, cyber safety starts by having informed employees who know the risks of malware, ransomware, keyloggers and other digital threats. your company can mitigate small business cybersecurity issues. 

During National Cybersecurity Month, the FBI tries to inform the public about the best practices to keep the information on personal computers out of the hands of hackers. Workshops and articles published during National Cybersecurity Month teach people about strong passwords, two-factor authentication, virtual private networks and the risks of public Wi-Fi networks.[3]

Over 80 percent of cybersecurity experts agree that training employees on these issues can reduce the number of incidents. Cybersecurity Month can teach you and your employees how to avoid threats that come from careless computer safety practices.

2.    Smart Devices Come with Smart Threats

Many people understand that browsing the internet comes with risks. The general strategy for staying safe on the internet is to use strong passwords, stay away from malicious sites and not share your information with anyone unless you take proper precautions. Unfortunately, this strategy isn’t helpful for the so-called smart devices on the internet of things.

The internet of things is a large category of Wi-Fi-connected devices that do not have traditional interfaces. IoT includes devices like virtual assistants, smart lights and surveillance systems. These smart devices typically do not have the same security protocols offered by PCs, tablets and smartphones. Hackers exploit this weakness on devices like DVRs to access restricted information on websites.

If your small business uses smart devices, you can benefit from learning about security techniques during Cybersecurity Month. The FBI offers several solutions, including security patching and isolating IoT networks.

3.    Business Email Compromise Is on the Rise

A common way for criminals to exploit your workers is by posing as an authority figure within your company through a business email compromise scam. For example, a criminal may use the company email to pose as the company’s CEO or CFO. The disguised criminal then asks for a large sum of company money to be transferred to a bank account. If your employees fall for the ruse, your company may lose a large sum of money.

Fortunately, the FBI offers a few tips on how to avoid losing money and reputation through business email compromise scams. They recommend establishing a procedure for requesting and approving financial transactions. Using a flagging system that identifies false company emails can also be helpful.[6] You should also keep an eye out for payroll diversions.

4.    Always Report Cyber Security Incidents 

Sharing information about cybersecurity flaws and incidents is necessary to improve responses to threats. The FBI recommends that businesspeople affected by security breaches use the Internet Crime Complaint Center to file an incident report.

The information filed in the system can help the FBI pursue cyber criminals. Security professionals can also use information of evolving threats to develop effective preventative measures.

How You Can Protect Your Small Business

By using the information offered by the FBI and security professionals during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, you can protect the revenue and reputation of your small business from hackers.

Cybersecurity is an effort that happens at every level of business. You and your employees must work together to mitigate risks. Your security plan should include training events, regular anti-virus upgrades and damage-control procedures in the event of a breach.

You can also reduce the costs of data and financial theft by subscribing to a cybersecurity insurance policy. If your small business works with sensitive information or financial transactions, getting an insurance policy is a smart move. Contact Hiscox for more information on cybersecurity and other insurance policies that could help your small business.