Small and mid-sized businesses have most of the same cybersecurity concerns of larger enterprises. What they don't have are the resources to deal with them. A new initiative, the Cybersecurity Toolkit, is intended to bridge that gulf and give small companies the ability to keep themselves safer in an online environment that is increasingly dangerous.
The Toolkit, a join initiative of the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA) and Mastercard, is intended to give small business owners basic, usable, security controls and guidance. It's not, says Alexander Niejelow, senior vice president for cyber security coordination and advocacy and MasterCard, that there's no information available to the small business owners. He points out that government agencies in the U.S. and the U.K. provide a lot of information on cybersecurity for businesses.
It's just that, "It's very hard for small businesses to consume that. What we wanted to do was remove the barriers to effective action," he says, and go beyond broad guidance to giving them very specific instructions presented, "…if at all possible in a video format and clear easy to use tools that they could use right now to go in and significantly reduce their cyber risk so they could be more secure and more economically stable in both the short and long term."
Improving security for small businesses can have an enormous international impact, Niejelow says. "Around the world, small businesses are critical to people's economic success and survival. At the same time we as an industry and a group of countries have left small businesses behind when it comes to cybersecurity."
The GCA has partnered with several organizations, with Mastercard's sponsorship, to create the GCA Cybersecurity Toolkit. The partners include the Center for Internet Security, the Cyber Readiness Institute, the City of London and the City of New York. According to the announcement of the initiative, The Cybersecurity Toolkit includes a number of specific sections, including:
- Operational tools that help them take inventory of their cyber-related assets, create and maintain strong passwords, use multi-factor authentication, perform backups of critical data, prevent phishing and viruses;
- How-to materials, such as template policies and forms, training videos, and other foundational documents they can customize for their organizations;
- Recognized best practices from leading organizations in the industry including the Center for Internet Security Controls, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre Cyber Essentials, the Australian Cyber Security Centre's Essential Eight, and Mastercard.
Phil Reitinger, president and CEO of GCA says that they hope to see a dramatic uptake of information from the toolkit in a very short period of time. "Our stated goal here is to have a broad effect, and the stated goal is we want to reach a million businesses in 1,000 days," he says.
As for how those businesses should use the information, "We've tried to put a bunch of tools together that small businesses can actually use," Reitinger explains, continuing, "If we make it so simple that the family dry cleaner with a mom, a dad ,and two kids can do what they need to do, then the rest will flow from that."
"Small businesses individuals are not dumb," Reitinger says. "They are exceedingly smart people but a truck driver is good at driving a truck; he's not so good necessarily at securing his own computer." And Niejelow says that business owners shouldn't need to be cybersecurity professionals. He explains, "It's time we reduced the complexity of this issue and start making it more approachable so that our businesses can get back to doing what they do extremely well."
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