Jul 15, 2015 - 2:00pm

How Your Company Can Avoid the U.S. Government’s Cyber Fate


Former Executive Director, Communications & Strategy

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Cybersecurity threats
Don't be discouraged by the OPM breach. Instead, take action with these five simple steps. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

After watching the U.S. government get digitally blindsided to the tune of 21 million federal workers’ social security numbers, it’s natural as an entrepreneur or small business owner to come away with a rather futile outlook. If an organization as powerful as the federal government can’t thwart cyber criminals, what can you possibly do to protect your small business from attacks?

Actually, quite a lot.

Cyber criminals are stepping up their game, which is all the more reason for business executives and entrepreneurs to ramp up their efforts to shield their companies. Question is, where to start? How do you even to begin to protect yourself, your employees, your data and your customers? Our experts pulled together five steps you can take right now to help your company stay ahead of cyber crime.

1. Play big brother: Limit the sites employees can visit and what they can download and install into a system.

2. It only takes a minute: Keep all software current. Install security updates if they are not done automatically.

3. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket: Make copies of the data on your computer, select the appropriate hardware to store the backup data, and safely store the backup device that holds your copied files.

4. Use your greatest asset: your employees: Emphasize the importance of having strong passwords and being wary of public Wi-Fi connections while traveling. Instruct employees to think carefully before opening attachments or clicking links in unusual email or instant messages on social networks. Be sure that staff are using flash drives carefully; do not connect with unknown networks or drives.

5. Hope for the best, plan for the worst: Continuously monitor your business’ log data, and just in case all of the above fails, have a plan in the event of a cyber attack. Responding quickly and efficiently can help to greatly mitigate the damages.

Checked those items off your list? Excellent – but there’s still more your company can do to ward of cyberattacks, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is working with business leaders around the nation to equip them with and help them adopt the most effective cybersecurity strategies.

In partnership with Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Tech and the Technology Association of Georgia, the U.S. Chamber on Wednesday held the first in a series of cybersecurity summits in Atlanta. During the events, cyber experts will meet with executives and entrepreneurs to help the latter embed a new framework of cybersecurity policies released last year by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The U.S. Chamber was one of several public and private organizations that helped craft the framework.

This year’s cybersecurity campaign follows a series of half-day forums the Chamber hosted in Austin, Chicago, Everett, and Phoenix in 2014, in addition to the third annual cybersecurity summit in D.C. This year’s campaign will continue with events in Longview, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, and, come October, the fourth annual cybersecurity summit in Washington.

Related: Learn how Congress can help protect American businesses, too.

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About the Author

About the Author

Former Executive Director, Communications & Strategy

J.D. Harrison is the former Executive Director for Strategic Communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.