Perspectives on cybersecurity continue to evolve as our level of ‘connectedness’ and awareness of potential threats increases. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, many security experts believe there are two types of businesses, “…those that have been hacked and know it, and those that have been hacked and don't know it yet.” While this overstates the situation a bit, it does highlight the urgency to address cybersecurity, even for small businesses. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggests, the question isn’t if, it’s when.

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    Both Europe and the U.S. have designated October as cybersecurity month, highlighting the importance of this issue to business. One of the governmental organizations addressing the issue is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST is currently in the revision phase of its report, Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals, by Richard Kissel and Hyunjeong Moon. In partnership with the Small Business Administration and the FBI, NIST is one of the governmental organizations reaching out to the small business community and providing guidance on how to address cybersecurity.

    Cybersecurity is not an all-or-nothing effort. NIST recognizes that the appropriate security measures may differ from company to company and that not every company will be able to implement every possible measure quickly. Nonetheless, they have classified a number of cybersecurity practices as ‘absolutely necessary’ and suggest that every small business adopts them to protect their information, systems and networks.

    These practices include:

    1. Protecting information/systems/networks from damage by viruses, spyware, and other malicious code
    2. Protecting a company’s Internet connection
    3. Installing and activating software firewalls on all business systems
    4. Patching operating systems and applications
    5. Making backup copies of important business data/information
    6. Training employees in basic security principles

    A great starting point for evaluating a businesses security status and potential risk is to use the “AVG Small Business Security Healthcheck” tool that AVG Business provides for free on our website. In just a few minutes a business can generate a cybersecurity profile that can be used internally, or with an IT solution provider that understands the company’s network and business practices, to ensure the right solutions are put in place.

    In many cases, security experts will advise, as NIST has, that protecting against viruses and malware and installing firewalls are critical steps. This can be easily accomplished with software solutions including the just updated AVG AntiVirus and AVG Internet Security solutions from AVG Business. With exceptionally easy user interfaces and automated protection features, special knowledge isn’t required to provide protection across an entire business. Making sure that antivirus is in place and firewalls are working are the first and easiest steps a company can take.

    Addressing cybersecurity for small and medium businesses has clearly risen to mission-critical status, but that doesn’t mean it has to impact a company’s resources, finances or operations. With a network of more than 10,000 partners, an active channel community, and software solutions that are continuously updated to address changing security needs, AVG Business is certain that every business can establish strong cybersecurity measures and worry less about potential threats. If your company hasn’t yet embarked on a cybersecurity plan, now is a good time to start.