By Hope Belli Tinney, Washington Small Bcybersecurity imageusiness Development Center

SEATTLE, Wash. – More than 2,700 businesses in Washington state reported cyberattacks in 2016 to the FBI’s Crime Complaint Center. Those attacks totaled over $25 million in losses, putting Washington in the top 10 among states for illegal hacks.

The Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is offering a three-hour workshop in Seattle and in Bellevue in September to help business owners learn best practices for protecting data against cyberattacks. The workshops are free, but registration is required. The Washington SBDC is hosted by Washington State University.

Small business mark prime targets

“We have created this workshop specifically for small business owners,” said Tim Taylor, head of the Washington SBDC Cybersecurity Awareness Team. According to Taylor, less than 20 percent of small businesses have a cybersecurity plan, but small businesses are prime targets for cyberattacks. “Small businesses are often more vulnerable than big organizations, and they have extremely valuable data,” he said.

According to a 2016 study by Malwarebytes, ransomware attacks are on the rise and healthcare and financial practices are top targets. More than 40 percent of surveyed companies reported an attack, and of those that were attacked, more than a third lost revenue and 20 percent went out of business.

Low-cost strategies

Many, if not most, breaches of a small business computer system can be prevented with some low- or no-cost security measures that are easy to implement, Taylor said.

At the workshops, cybersecurity experts will present procedures small business owners or IT managers can easily implement to reduce their company’s vulnerability to cybersecurity breaches. The workshop includes a workbook and cybersecurity toolkit based on the five-part NIST framework, which will help them develop a cybersecurity protocol for their business.

Dec. 31 government contract deadline

For businesses that bid on government contracts or subcontracts, Dec. 31 is the deadline for businesses to meet the Federal Information Security Modernization Act requirements to protect data integrity. The Federal Information Security Modernization Act certification process will be discussed at the workshop.

The Bellevue workshop will run 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue Square, 116 Bellevue Way NE.

The Seattle workshop will run 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Microsoft Store in University Village, 2624 NE University Village St.

The Washington SBDC provides one-to-one business advising at 25 locations across the state for small business owners who want to start, grow or transition a business.

To learn more about attending or hosting a small business cybersecurity workshop, contact the Washington SBDC at 509-358-7776 or info@wsbdc.org

Media Contacts:

  • Tim Taylor, cybersecurity, Washington Small Business Development Center, tim.taylor@wsbdc.org, 509-358-7776
  • Hope Belli Tinney, director of communications, Washington Small Business Development Center, 509-432-8254, hopebt@wsu.edu