Summit aims to protect small businesses from cyber attacks

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JEFFERSON CITY - Small businesses are increasingly prone to cyber security attacks. A summit in Jefferson City Tuesday was designed to educate the public on ways to ensure an attack doesn't happen to them. 

According to Symantec's 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, cyber attacks on small businesses have accounted for 43 percent of total hacks this year. That is up from just 18 percent in 2011. 

Kevin Seiler, of Check Point Software Technologies, said small businesses are often at risk because of owners' low valuation of their company as a whole. 

"The biggest mistake small businesses make is that they underestimate the value of what they have and what they own. Often, they think they don't have anything of value to be taken," Seiler said. 

Jamie Cote, an owner of Personalized Computers in Columbia, said harm can range from embarrassment (email chains that get sent out) to loss of productivity, to theft of vital company information. 

Cote said the best way to avoid such things is to create more than one backup of company files. 

"It's the multi-tiered backups, not just having a backup on the same hard drive of your Quick Books file. It's important to have an internal, external, and off-site backup," Cote said. 

Many of the security breaches aren't initially caused by attacks, but rather inadvertent information put at risk by employees of small businesses.

"Most security breaches are not because somebody was trying to hurt you, most of them are done because they're trying to help you," Seller said.

"Many times, an employee will try to go the extra mile to help the business grow without even realizing the risk they might have just put onto it," he said. 

To prevent cyber security from becoming a problem in the first place, Cote said his company preaches preventative maintenance much like many other industries do. That includes back-up plans and employee training.

"Dental offices, they preach the same type of thing. Health care in general talks about taking care of things ahead of time before they become a problem, so we have a similar approach," Cote said.