Small firms must heed online security, too

Small businesses must take online security as seriously as major corporations, but they often lack the resources. Two-thirds of American small businesses rely on broadband Internet for their day-to-day operations, but just half of them have a cyber-security plan in place to protect their companies and their customers, according to a survey released last October by security software developer Symantec and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

"With larger companies increasing their online defenses, small businesses are now the low-hanging fruit for cyber criminals, and many may have a false sense of security," wrote Jordan Usdan and Josh Gottheimer, Federal Communications Commission officials, in a blog post.

To address the problem, the FCC last fall launched the Small Biz Cyber Planner, an online resource that small businesses can use to customize their own cyber-security plans.

Businesses can develop a planning guide by answering a series of questions on the website. They can access the planning tool at (The FCC cautioned that the guide should not be a substitute for consulting with cyber-security professionals.)

The online planner was created through a partnership between experts at companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies, according to an announcement last fall.

The FCC, with the help of private- and public-sector partners, has also created a tip sheet to educate business owners on what steps they can take to protect their companies from online threats.

The recommendations include setting up firewall security between a company's internal network and the Internet, so outsiders can't access private data. The tip sheet also encourages owners to create separate accounts for each employee and require strong passwords, as well as install and regularly update antivirus and anti-spyware software on each computer.

The tip sheet is available at


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