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October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the FCC has issued an update to its " Small Biz Cyber Planner." The planner was created last year as a free online resource for small-business owners who want to beef up their security against cyber attacks.
Using the tool, business owners can create and download cyber-security plans tailored to their company. They answer 12 simple questions, such as "Does your business use credit cards?" and "Does your business have a public website?"
Then, based on the responses to those questions, the cyber planner generates a custom guide which now includes -- among other things -- best practices for avoiding spyware and immediate steps to take in case of infection. It also provides information about buying cyber insurance, which can help cover damages related to an attack.
"The tool is designed for businesses that lack the resources to hire dedicated staff to protect their business, information and customers from cyber threats," the FCC wrote in a blog post.
While some small businesses on bootstrapped budgets might think of cyber security as an unnecessary cost -- that cyber criminals are more interested in bigger fish -- the FCC says smaller companies are increasingly in criminals' crosshairs. Like their offline counterparts, cyber criminals tend to target low-hanging fruit and, as larger companies take steps to secure their systems, less secure small businesses are easier targets for cyber criminals, according to the FCC website.
In the first six months of 2012 more than 36 percent of all targeted attacks were aimed at companies with fewer than 500 employees, according to Mountain View, Calif.–based security firm Symantec's June Intelligence report. That number is on the rise, up from 18 percent at the end of 2011.
Cyber criminals are shifting their attention to smaller businesses as the weakest point of entry into a larger supply chain. Symantec research suggests that while small businesses may not always be the primary target of an attack, cyber criminals increasingly use them as a stepping-stone for access to their customers, or to their larger business partners.
As part of the update, the FCC also released an updated cyber security tip sheet, which includes advice for a mobile device action plan, and credit card security.
What tools do you use to stave off cyber threats? Let us know in the comments below.
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