Are You Taking Advantage of These Government Cyber Resources?
Many small businesses know they're vulnerable to cybersecurity risks, but they fail to take even basic precautions. The perceived cost and complexity of setting up the proper cyber defense are enough to deter many small businesses from investing in them. The good news is that there are many free or low-cost solutions, including various government resources designed to help.
Let's take a look at some free government cybersecurity resources for cash-strapped small businesses looking to protect their digital assets.
Why Cybersecurity is Important
Small businesses face unprecedented cybersecurity risks. More than 40 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses and 60 percent of victims go out of business within six months. Despite these risk factors, only 14 percent of small businesses rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and other attacks as 'highly effective.'
The data also shows that about half of small businesses have experienced a cyber attack over the past year. About 55 percent of respondents to one survey indicated that they were attacked between May 2015 and May 2016, while approximately 50 percent report that they experienced data breaches involving customer and employee information over the same timeframe.
The cost of these incidents amounted to an average of $879,582 in addition to $955,429 in costs associated with disruption to their normal operations. Given these high costs, it's not surprising that many small businesses don't survive more than six months after an attack! Three-quarters of small businesses don't carry any cyber risk insurance to cover these kinds of losses.
Cybersecurity may seem intimidating to many small business owners, but ignoring the problem could be devastating. The good news is that there are many free and low-cost cybersecurity solutions that can help address these risks. Jungle Disk's cybersecurity suite starts at just $4 per employee per month, but if that's not possible, there are many free resources.
Educate Yourself & Your Employees
Most cybersecurity attacks arise from mistakes rather than vulnerabilities. For instance, an employee may open a malicious attachment, a router may be running outdated firmware or a firewall misconfiguration may leave the door wide open for hackers to wreak havoc. All of these issues could be prevented with the right knowledge and processes in place.
Download our free Cybersecurity Fundamentals Checklist to see where to start with your cybersecurity efforts.
The government provides many educational resources for both small businesses and their employees:
NIH Training Courses - The National Institutes of Health provides six free online courses for business owners, new hires, managers and IT administrators. The courses range from 10 minutes to an hour and a half and include a certificate of completion at the end of the course to prove that a new hire has taken the course.
NIST Handbook - The National Institute of Standards and Technology provides a free small business security handbook that breaks down cybersecurity best practices, ranging from quantifying various risk factors to safeguarding the information. There are even worksheets that you can use to help create an inventory and prioritize threats.
FTC Cyber Resources - The Federal Trade Commission provides a range of cybersecurity resources, including articles, videos, printable and quizzes to help safeguard information. Unlike lengthy text documents, these resources are short, to-the-point and highly interactive to promote knowledge retention.
SCORE Webinar - The small business mentoring network provides webinars designed to help small businesses install effective defenses against cyber attacks. In the webinar, Mr. Dan Burke discusses findings in his company’s Cyber Readiness Report and discusses practical steps businesses can take to prepare.
Free Cybersecurity Tools & Services
Many small businesses mistakenly believe that they need expensive enterprise cybersecurity solutions to protect themselves. In reality, there are many different free and low-cost solutions. For example, Jungle Disk’s comprehensive cybersecurity suite is designed for small businesses with under 250 employees and starts at just $4 per employee per month.
Don't forget to download our free Cybersecurity Fundamentals Checklist to see where to start with your cybersecurity efforts.
The government provides links to many different free cybersecurity resources designed to help small businesses protect themselves for free:
- FCC Cyberplanner - The Federal Communication Commission's Cyberplanner is designed to help small businesses easily create a cybersecurity plan that's customized for their business as a starting point for wider efforts. Often times, this is the best first step to take in the prevention process.
StaySafeOnline - The National Cyber Security Alliances StaySafeOnline platform provides a free list of online security checkups and tools that search for known viruses and spyware on computer systems. Many of these are commercial programs that have free or limited-feature versions available for small businesses.
Cyber Crime Support Network - The Cybercrime Support Network is a public-private nonprofit collaboration to help businesses affected by cybercrime. If you or your business have suffered from an attack, the network helps you coordinate the reporting and recovery effort without the stress of doing it alone.
Additional Free Resources
The government isn't the only source for free cybersecurity resources for small businesses. Nonprofit organizations, open-source projects and even for-profit companies provide many free resources designed to help identify and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities before they result in a costly data breach or other forms of attack.
For example, Jungle Disk's Network Security Scan tests for seven common vulnerabilities in just two minutes, including open ports, intrusion prevention systems, DDoS defense, credit card theft, malware/viruses, and client-side attacks. Many antivirus and antimalware companies also provide free or limited-feature versions of their software.
Small businesses that are comfortable with technology can also use several open-source cybersecurity tools to assess their network security. For example, OpenVAS is an open-source vulnerability scanning suite and SecurityOnion is a Linux distribution for intrusion detection and security monitoring of a network.
The Bottom Line
Cybersecurity represents a significant threat to small businesses. In addition to being ill-prepared for an attack, many small businesses would go out of business within six months following an attack. It's important for business owners to address these risks before it's too late, and fortunately, there are free or low-cost resources to help.