Valley First

Small Business Advice on Cyber Fraud

Size doesn’t protect small business from fraud: Valley First Expert
April 18, 2013

Penticton, B.C.—When it comes to small business fraud, size doesn’t matter. There is no such thing as too small or too remote. Unfortunately, along with cost, feeling their company is too small to be attacked is one of the major reasons small businesses overlook anti-fraud measures. But the statistics now show that such attitudes need to change, and quick.

According to the 2013 Internet Security Threat Report recently released by Symantec, cyber attacks increased by 42 per cent in 2012. Most concerning for small business owners, half of those attacks were aimed squarely at them with 31 per cent directed toward small businesses with less than 250 employees.

“Cyber criminals and fraudsters know there are many small businesses that don’t have the resources or knowledge to adequately protect themselves,” say Dominic Vogel, an IT security expert at Valley First. “Even the smallest businesses have an online presence, meaning they are also potentially vulnerable.”

While the threat of online fraud is ever-present, Vogel explains there are a few simple steps business owners can take to reduce their exposure to risk. These include changing default passwords and account names, updating system security regularly and installing anti-virus and anti-malware software.

“Making quick software updates is an easy way to limit fraud exposure, and it’s often only a single click. Unfortunately, it’s even easier to put off,” says Vogel. “How many times have you dismissed an update on your home PC because you were busy? For a small business owner, that can be the difference between being protected and becoming a victim of fraud.”

For many small business owners there is often a blurry line between work-life and home-life. Vogel cautions that while work and home do overlap given the demands of running a small company, computer systems should remain totally separate.

“Most people would think twice about letting their kids come to the office and play online games or browse Facebook as it can open you up to all kinds of security risks,” says Vogel. “Just because your office may be the kitchen table to living room couch, doesn’t mean you should treat access to your computer systems or customer information differently. Wherever possible, try to keep business access and personal access separate.”

Vogel adds, IT security doesn’t require a big budget or dedicated IT security team. Common-sense goes a long way to help keeping your small business safe from cyber-criminals.

“You don’t have to aim for perfect security, simply focus your security resources on not being an easy target.”

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, which has 40 branches and 29 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. Led by Launi Skinner, First West has $7.1 billion in assets under administration, more than 171,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.

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