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In midst of heightened threats to cyber security, here is what you can do to protect yourself and your small business

In midst of heightened threats to cyber security, here is what you can do to protect yourself and your small business

In midst of heightened threats to cyber security, here is what you can do to protect yourself and your small business

Photo of person using their computer and mobile device

Situation at a Glance 

The war in Ukraine and Russian  attack on its infrastructure, cyber and otherwise, signals increased risk beyond borders. Our  Nation, and New York State in particular, in response to recent threats have directed their attention to identifying and addressing vulnerabilities and threats to State and local governments. As an individual and a small business owner, you need to be aware and prepared to respond to threats. In this article, I will share important steps you can take to actively protect your personal and business assets.  


The 3 Ss of Cyber Security 

Senator Gillibrand shared these three steps on March 7th that are useful for protecting personal and business information: 

  • Secure your accounts:  
  • Every account needs a different password. 
  • Use strong passwords; something that can’t be easily guessed. Passwords should be long and include combination of characters, upper and lower case letters and numbers. Click here for tips on how to set-up a strong password. 
  • Set up two-factor authentication for all your accounts; There are many instructional videos on YouTube to walk you through how to set this up for your iOS and Android devices as well as for different social media accounts; Read more about two-factor authentication from the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); 
  • Change your passwords regularly 
  • Update your software: Software updates for your computer, laptop, phone and other devices are important because they often include important upgrades that can protect your information.  
  • Stay vigilant: 
  • Inspect links that you receive in messages and emails before clicking. You can do this by hovering over the link to check that the underlying web address is from a legitimate source. 
  • Pay close attention to emails that might look like they’re coming from a legitimate source, like your bank or government agency, but ask you to share personal information in order to ‘claim’ your prize; or emails that threaten unless you share private information. 
  • When in doubt, don’t open or click, instead, call or email the organization directly. 

Shields Up for Organizations of All Sizes 

Whether you’re just dipping your toes in the world of business ownership or you’ve grown your small business into a successful organization, take advice from  CISA. Through its Shields Up program, CISA offers comprehensive guidelines on how to keep your organization safe. Here’s a quick rundown of general steps to take regardless of organization size: 

  • Minimize chances of cyber breach 
  • Set up two-factor authentication for organization’s network and file access. 
  • Regularly update software on all your devices. 
  • Create and implement controls for your cloud services; there are many resources available from Google Cloud Tech and Apple Support on YouTube. 
  • Invest in  antivirus/antimalware software that can scan for and resolve any threats on all your devices; Norton and McAfee are two examples. 
  • Create back-up of files to your iCloud and Google Drive. Guided step-by step process is available within each device. Search with ‘file backup’ keywords in the Help section of your device. 
  • Set-up a response team and plan on how to respond in case a breach does happen.  

Finally, cyber incidents can have serious consequences. You are encouraged to report incidents and abnormal activities to your local FBI field office and/or CISA.  


List of helpful resources and step-by-step guides: 

Report a Cyber Incident – CISA Incident Reporting System 

Report Phishing Sites directly by emailing Anti-Phishing Working Group 

Cyber Essentials Course – course to help you get your organization set-up for cyber readiness 

Microsoft Safety Scanner - tool to find and remove malware from Windows 

Google Safe Browsing – notifies of potential phishing and malware harms 

Other Free Cybersecurity Services and Tools – choose from a long list of services based on your organization's needs. 

Set-up Multifactor Authentication from Microsoft – YouTube instructional guide  

Set-Up Multifactor Authentication for Apple ID – step-by step guide