According to Timothy Francis, a leader in the cyber insurance field, 62 percent of cyber-breach victims are small and medium-sized businesses. How to Protect Your Small Business as Cybersecurity Threats Rise Small Business Trends Jun 3, 2016 by Larry Alton

As digital interaction increases, small businesses have become an increasingly attractive target for cyber criminals as an entry point to larger entities (corporations and government in particular). – White paper: Cybersecurity, Technology Adoption and Protecting Innovation in America’s Small Business

“In 2012, a report from Symantic Security Response found that attacks on small businesses had risen 300 percent over the previous year. That number has been on the rise ever since.” Is Your Small Business at Risk of Cyber Attacks? Small Business Trends Oct 12, 2015 by Megan Totka

“The National Cyber Security Alliance has estimated that 60 percent of small businesses hit by cyberattacks end up going out of business within 6 months.” June 06, 2016, 01:01 pm
Cyberattacks threaten Main Street’s bottom line but Congress can make a difference
By Reps. Richard Hanna (R-NY) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA)

CyberStrength 2017 will explore and challenge the small business owner to prepare and strengthen their cyber security plan, not simply to be ready for the next threat, but more importantly, to position their company to take advantage of the opportunities provided by having a strong cybersecurity posture. The overwhelming cascade of messages communicated to the small business owner emphasize the ongoing threat that malicious software and cyber-criminal elements pose to the security of their digital information. CyberStrength 2017 will focus on helping the small business owner harden their business’s cybersecurity infrastructure and strengthen their ability to conduct business with larger corporations and government entities.

An increasing number of cyber criminals and state actors have identified the unprepared small business as an entry point to their digitally connected larger corporate and government entity vendors/suppliers/customers. Thus, even though the larger entity has a robust cybersecurity plan, the criminal actor can penetrate that veil by routing through the small business connection. The outcome of the training provided through CyberStrength 2017 focuses on increasing the marketability of the small business by helping them conceptualize and implement a realistic and functional cybersecurity plan within today’s current cyber threat environment.

The University of Georgia SBDC will conduct CyberStrength 2017 on 6 April of 2017 in Columbus, GA at the Cunningham Center for Leadership Development. The program will consist of a one day conference, designed to help small business owners understand more fully the cybersecurity threat and why that threat should be considered important to them.   The other issue we see on the horizon relates to a new requirement coming up December 2017 for businesses doing business with the Federal government (focusing on protecting controlled, unclassified information [CUI])  NIST SP 800-171This standard will require businesses securing Federal contracts and dealing with CUI to have a certain level of cybersecurity (to include a cybersecurity plan) in place in order to obtain the contract.  Businesses focused on securing Federal contracts need to begin preparations now in order to meet that requirement.  

Presenters at CyberStrength 2017 include an FBI CyberSecurity expert; Stanton Gatewood, Chief Information Security Officer for the State of Georgia; Brian Jackson, President/CEO of Abacus IT Solutions out of Birmingham, AL, along with additional representatives from some of the larger companies in the area to provide a panel discussion on their cybersecurity expectations for vendor relationships.

The theme of the conference will be to emphasize the ability of the small business to grow their business by having a cybersecurity plan in place.   Thus, the morning session will focus on why it is important to have a cybersecurity plan in place, identifying the threats that are currently being faced by private sector and non-profit businesses and then, for the afternoon, having a panel discussion with representatives from local, larger entities, exploring their cybersecurity requirements for vendors to do business with them. This part of the session will also function as a networking opportunity for those minority/small business suppliers to determine the best points of contact within these entities and to learn exactly what the small business cybersecurity plan needs to encompass in order to fulfill the vendor contract requirements.

Additional information and registration Here 

(Source: Mark R. Lupo, MBCP, Area Director for The UGA SBDC in Columbus)