Oftentimes when speaking with our business community I find the topic of cybersecurity commonly shrouded in myth and misapprehension. I hear, “Cybersecurity is only for IT staff to worry about,” “I’m not a target,” “I can’t afford it,” or “I’m not sure what to do.” In an effort to extinguish these cybersecurity falsehoods, reinforce awareness of cybersecurity threats and provide solutions to Utah’s business community, the Salt Lake Chamber is taking part in Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

If you think cyber attacks primarily target large corporations for a bigger payoff, think again. No matter the size of your business or the industry you’re involved in, a cyber attack will inevitably come knocking at your door.

It’s reported that 71% of hackers attack businesses with less than 100 employees, costing $200,000 on average. Most concerning is the fact that 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack. And yet, a recent study by Symantec found 80% of the small businesses surveyed reported to have no formal cybersecurity plan in place.

For many small companies the lack of a formal cybersecurity plan often comes down to a resource issue. Large companies have the ability to invest heavily in security, while small businesses don’t feel they have the budget or capacity to commit the resources necessary to properly safeguard their networks and data. But, no matter the size of the business or the company’s budget, the information on the network is just as valuable to hackers. Customer information, bank account numbers, and other data make small businesses just as a big of a target as big businesses.

While risk management is a balancing act between productivity and implementing security, it’s evident that becoming cybersecure is good for business. Beyond the costs incurred from a data breach is the impact a cyber attack has on a business’ reputation and consumer trust. Every Utah business should make time for cybersecurity. Simple things like setting strong passwords, keeping your software up to date, having your data backed up, and training your employees on how to recognize and respond to a phishing email can have a huge impact on your vulnerability level.

As the voice of the business community, the Salt Lake Chamber believes cybersecurity is a shared risk and ultimately a shared responsibility. An important phrase for businesses to remember: “If you collect it, you must protect it.” Take the time to do a thorough inventory of the information you are collecting – what assets would someone target that, if lost, would cripple your business? Are you storing customer credit card information? Are you limiting internal access to sensitive information? Try to identify desirable targets and then take measures to protect the data. These solutions I have listed are not particularly challenging to put into place, and yet they can drastically reduce your risk profile.

Raising your cybersecurity awareness reaches beyond the personal success of your business and stands out as menace to free enterprise as a whole. Do your part. Start down the path towards cybersecurity today and protect the prosperity of our community.

Please join the Salt Lake Chamber in this effort to fortify Utah’s business environment and participate in Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Learn more at: http://slchamber.com/cyber/