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Small Business Cybersecurity: 5 Steps to Stop Cybercrime 

Cyber Security Tips to protect your business - John Sileo

Small Business Cybersecurity Gone Terribly Wrong 

On August 12, 2003, as I was just sitting down to a tea party with my daughters and their stuffed animals, the doorbell rang. Standing there when I opened the door was a special agent from the economic crimes unit at the district attorney’s office—ready to charge me for electronically embezzling (hacking) $298,000 from my small business customers. The DA’s office had enough digital DNA to put me in jail for a decade. 

I was the victim of cybercrime, and I should have known better. You see, earlier that year my personal identity was stolen by cybercriminals out of my trash and sold to a woman in Florida. This woman purchased a home, committed a number of crimes, drained my bank accounts and filed for bankruptcy—all in my name. I learned all of this one day at the bank, right before I was escorted out by security guards.

The experience of losing my money, time and dignity motivated me to protect my personal information assets with a vengeance. Unfortunately, I didn’t apply my newfound cyber vigilance to my small business, which is how I ended up losing it. 

Like a lot of small business owners, it never occurred to me that my $2 million company would be targeted by cyber criminals. I figured we weren’t worth the effort, especially compared to large multinational companies like Target, Marriott, Google and Facebook. My naivete cost me my family’s business and two years fighting to stay out of jail. 

The fact is, cyber criminals are increasingly going after small and midsize businesses (SMBs) precisely because they are easier targets than larger organizations. According to the Ponemon Institute’s most recent Global State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses report, 76 percent of  small and midsize businesses experienced a cyber attack in the past 12 months. The same report found that only 28 percent of companies characterize their ability to mitigate threats, vulnerabilities and attacks as “highly effective.” 

Not all hacking results in criminal charges being filed against the victim, as in my case, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant costs involved. According to last year’s Ponemon Institute study, companies spent an average of $1.43 million due to damage or theft of IT assets. On top of that, the disruption to their normal operations cost companies $1.56 million on average. 

In other words, your organization’s chances are greater than 50/50 that it will suffer a serious cyber attack in the next year or so and that the attack will have a significant negative impact on profitability. The good news is that you can eliminate much of the risk with a reasonable budget and some good leadership.

5 Small Business Cybersecurity Strategies

In my experience, good entrepreneurs begin with the following steps:

Identify All data is not created equal. Bring together the key players in your business and identify the specific pieces of data, if lost or stolen, that would make a significant impact on your operation, reputation and profitability. This could be everything from customer credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers to valuable intellectual property.

Evaluate Understand your business’ current cyber security readiness. During this step, I recommend bringing in an external security firm to conduct a systems penetration test. A good Pen Test will give you a heatmap of your greatest weaknesses as well as a prioritized attack plan. Have a separate IT provider implement the remediation plan, if possible, to provide an objective check on the security firm’s work. 

Assign Engage stakeholders from across your organization, not just those within IT. Assign a detail-oriented, tech-savvy leader other than yourself (if feasible) to oversee the analysis and implementation of your cyber strategy. Other players essential to this conversation are your lawyer and your accountant/auditor, who can help you build a breach response plan for when data is compromised. In today’s digital economy, theft and loss are part of business as usual and they should be planned for—like any other risk to your organization.

Measure Just as with any other business function, cyber security needs to be measured. Your security or IT provider should be able to suggest simple metrics—number of blocked hacking attempts (in your firewall), failed phishing attacks, days without a breach, etcetera—with which to keep a pulse on your data defense. 

Repeat Each one of these steps should be re-evaluated and updated on a regular basis. I recommend taking a look at your security during your slowest season annually. Strong cyber security thrives in the details, and the details in this realm change every year. 

The bottom line is that SMBs can no longer ignore the very real threat of cyber crime, including crime perpetrated by an insider (in 2018, 34 percent of data breaches involved internal actors and 2 percent involved partners). I learned both of these lessons the hard way. It takes an average of 73 days for organizations to contain an insider-related incident; my case dragged on for two years, during which I spent every day fighting to keep myself out of jail. 

In the end, I found out the cyber criminal was my business partner. A man I loved and trusted like a brother stole and used my banking login credentials to embezzle from our clients; he used my identity to commit his cyber crimes. He exploited my trust and then he cut the rope and let me take the fall. 

And I should have known better. So if you think your company is too small to be targeted or you’re too smart to be victimized, think again. 


About Cyber security Keynote Speaker John Sileo

John Sileo is the founder and CEO of The Sileo Group, a cybersecurity think tank, in Lakewood, Colorado, and an award-winning author and Hall of Fame Speaker who specializes in providing security-awareness training to small businesses as well as large organizations. He has shared his experiences on “60 Minutes,” “Anderson Cooper” — and even while cooking meatballs with Rachael Ray. John earned a BS with honors in political science from Harvard University. 

 

5 Disastrous Decisions that Destroy Small Business – and How to Avoid Them

Interactive Webinar, Sponsored by Deluxe Corporation, Featuring Privacy Expert John Sileo

ST. PAUL, Minn., Oct 04, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Cyber criminals sabotaged John Sileo’s business – and nearly landed him in jail. Now he’s determined to help small business owners prevent the disastrous mistakes that loom ever-larger in the age of identity theft, mobile computing and social media.

Sileo will share his story – and the lessons he learned – in an hour-long interactive webinar on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. EST. Titled “5 Disastrous Decisions that Destroy Small Business,” the webinar is sponsored by Deluxe Corporation and designed to provide business owners with simple, actionable tools to help protect their operations and enhance their efficiencies.

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To register for the 2 p.m. EST webinar, go to www.deluxe.com/highsecurity.

Sileo is the award-winning author of “Privacy Means Profit,” and has appeared on “60 Minutes” and “Fox and Friends.” He launched his career as a privacy consultant after thieves stole his identity and used it to embezzle nearly a half million dollars from his clients. The security breach destroyed his business and triggered a two-year legal morass.

Now, Sileo is America’s leading professional speaker on identity theft and information control. During the Deluxe’s interactive webinar, he will be joined by Susan Haider, executive director, high security product management, Deluxe Corp.

He will share insights gleaned from years of experience, including details on:

  • How Sileo’s business was destroyed by poor decision-making.
  • Mistakes other small business owners have made and how to avoid them.
  • Concrete, actionable steps you can take to minimize your risk now.Human, physical and digital threats to your business security.
  • Targeting skills you can use to design your plan of attack.We

Following the presentation, participants can get personalized advice from Sileo and Haider during a Q&A session. Participants also will receive a free copy of “Are Tax-time Identity Thieves Targeting Your Small Business? 5 Defense Strategies,” a white paper written by Sileo.

 

About John Sileo John Sileo is an award-winning author and privacy speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and its polar opposite, the powerful use of trust, to achieve success. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC and Homeland Security. Watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business.

His satisfied clients include the Department of Defense, Blue Cross, Homeland Security, the FDIC, Pfizer, the Federal Trade Commission and corporations, organizations and associations of all sizes.

About Deluxe Corporation Deluxe is a growth engine for small businesses and financial institutions. Over four million small business customers access Deluxe’s wide range of products and services including customized checks and forms as well as website development and hosting, search engine marketing, logo design and business networking. For financial institutions, Deluxe offers industry-leading programs in checks, customer acquisition, regulatory compliance, fraud prevention and profitability. Deluxe is also a leading printer of checks and accessories sold directly to consumers. For more information, visit us at www.deluxe.com , http://www.facebook.com/deluxecorp or http://twitter.com/deluxecorp .

Business Killers: Identity Theft and Data Breach Protection FREE WEBINAR

Business Killers: Identity Theft and Data Breach Protection Webinar on November 10

 

On November 10, I will host an interactive webinar sponsored by Deluxe that will explore how small businesses can protect themselves from identity theft. As someone who lost more than $300,000 and my small business to identity theft, this is a topic I care about deeply. In addition to delivering keynote speeches at conferences, I also provide consulting and guidance to organizations like the Federal Trade Commission, Pfizer and the Department of Defense on how to best protect the sensitive data inside of their organizations.

Register now for tomorrow’s webinar.

During this multi-part webinar, I will provide simple, actionable tools and advice to help small businesses protect their data and retain information privacy. I’ll also explain how the information economy has shifted the competitive landscape and increased our data exposure. Attendees will learn the following:

  • The new reality: information does not equal power
  • How to think like a spy and apply critical thinking to the power equation
  • Manipulation triggers thieves use against your employees and defense techniques
  • Interrogation tools to uncover fraud before it erodes your profits and net worth
  • Fraud hotspot best practices
  • Trends in data theft
  • Holiday identity theft prevention tips

Sign up now and make sure that your business doesn’t experience the losses that mine did.

John Sileo, the award-winning author of Privacy Means Profit, is a keynote speaker on identity theft, data security, social media exposureand weapons of influence. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Homeland Security, Blue Cross, the FDIC and hundreds of corporations, organizations and associations of all sizes. Learn more at www.ThinkLikeASpy.com.

15 Data Security Tips to Protect Your Small Business

Thanks to SmallBusinessComputing.com and Jennifer Schiff for this article!

In August 2010, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse published its latest Chronology of Data Breaches, which showed that since 2005 more than a half-billion sensitive records have been breached. Of those breached records — which contained such sensitive data as customer credit card or social security numbers — approximately one-fifth came from retailers, merchants and other types of non-financial, non-insurance-related businesses, the majority of which were small to midsized.

An equally scary statistic: approximately 80 percent of small businesses that experience a data breach go bankrupt or suffer severe financial losses within two years of a security breach, according to John Sileo, a professional identity theft consultant and speaker, who knows firsthand about the havoc a security breach can wreak on a small business.

What can a small business owner do to protect her business from a security breach? Small Business Computing spoke with two security and privacy experts and consulted the leading security and privacy sites to find out. The good news: protecting your business from a data security threat is easier than you think. It’s also much cheaper than the physical, financial and emotional cost of repairing one.

Click Here to Continue Reading……

John Sileo speaks professionally about social media exposure, identity theft and cyber crime for the Department of Defense, Fortune 1000 companies and any organization that wants to protect the profitability of their private information. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076 or visit his financial speaker’s website.

Uncovering Business Identity Theft

While the majority of identity theft schemes prey upon individuals, small-businesses and organizations are increasingly becoming targets. Business identity theft is a serious threat, but it mostly flies under the radar simply because companies are embarrassed to discuss.

Although most companies are protected by copyright, patent and trademark laws, smaller companies lack the higher IT security measures that large companies have. According to recent studies by Javelin Strategy & Research this makes them 25% more likely to be victims of business identity theft over larger businesses.  Not only do small businesses and business owners typically have larger lines of credit open than an individual, but they are unlikely to detect the fraud for six to eight months making them a prime target.

Business Identity has not been completely defined yet, but it definitely has been stolen. California has become the leader in offering identity rights to organizations and in 2006 they expanded the definition of ‘person’ in identity theft laws to include associations, organizations, partnerships, businesses, trusts, companies, and corporations. These types of amended laws have proved to deter business identity theft and provide greater assistance to those companies that have been hit.

Most commonly criminals assume the name of a business, rent out office space in the same building and order everything from corporate credit cards to hundreds of computers and equipment. In one instance the culprit billed a law firm for $70,000 in purchased equipment, hired a moving truck and disappeared from the building before the fraud was ever detected.  This has been not only costly, but timely. If businesses had the same protection as individuals this would have been quickly resolved and the victims would have moved on. Credit card companies have also followed suit and began to remove the distinction between business identity theft and individual identity theft.

The lack of publicity on this type of Identity theft is solely due to a lack of reporting by companies. Businesses are required by federal law to notify consumers who’s personal information has been hijacked, but not if their businesses identity has been stolen. In order to save face, most business owners would rather not own up to such a breach to avoid looking like the pawn in a criminals scheme. Without incentives and assistance to a company who has experienced this type of transgression there is little reason for them to come forward.

Until businesses and their owners come forward to help uncover business identity theft there will be less laws in place to deter criminals and small businesses will remain vulnerable.

For more information on this issue check out BusinessWeek.

John Sileo provides identity theft training to human resource departments and organizations around the country. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.