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FCC unveils new version of Cyber protection planner for small businesses

FCC's Genachowski

Concerned that smaller businesses are increasingly vulnerable to online attack, the Federal Communications Commission unveiled a revised online tool that can help them customized Cyber protections.

The agency cited a recent Symantec study that showed, while large businesses and government agencies are bolstering their Cyber defenses, 83 percent of small businesses don’t have a formal Cyber security policy. That gap, it said, makes them more vulnerable targets to an ever-widening threat of Cyber attack. According to Symantec, said the FCC in announcing the new tool on Oct. 17, small businesses were subject to hundreds of millions of cyber threats in just the first few months of 2012. A typical cyber-attack that infiltrates a small business can cost, on average, close to $200,000 – enough to put many of them out of business, according to the study.

The FCC re-launched the Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0, which was originally launched in October 2011. The tool has been used by almost 10,000 businesses since then, according to the FCC. “We know that not having a plan leaves small businesses vulnerable to cyber attacks, said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in an Oct. 18 statement. “The good news is that small business owners can take simple steps to protect themselves. By making a plan using the FCC’s updated Small Biz Cyber Planner, small businesses can quickly strengthen their online defenses.”

The new version of the resource was updated with in a public/private collaboration between government experts and private IT and security companies, said Genachowski. Participants in the alliance include the Department of Homeland Security, National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA), the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Chertoff Group, Symantec, Sophos, Visa, Microsoft, HP, McAfee, The Identity Theft Council, ADP and others.

The Cyber Planner 2.0, said the FCC, features new details about cyber insurance to mitigate interruptions to business and financial loss from cyber-attacks, best practices on spyware, including how to avoid advanced versions of spyware and what immediate steps to take in case of infection, and recommendations to install new software systems that enable remote cleaning and tracking of laptops and mobile devices in the case of theft.  .

The commission said the planner will be of particular value for businesses that lack the resources to hire a dedicated staff member to protect themselves from cyber threats, said the agency. The tool, it said, walks users through a series of questions to determine what Cyber security strategies should be included in the planning guide, and generate a customized PDF that will serve as a Cyber security strategy template.