Small businesses on guard against cyber attacks
How secure is your company’s sensitive data? A Plymouth company official is helping others understand the unseen threats that could ruin a company

According to the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack.

At Plymouth based Seacole, the sensitive nature of this specialty chemical manufacturing company is visible in its warehouse. There, thousands of gallons of chemicals sit at the ready for different business clients

"We do liquids and powders from two ounce bottles up to bulk tankers," said Seacole Chief Financial Officer John Bell as he described products in the warehouse. "In this one, specifically, we have a cleaner that we manufacture and that's used for industrial cleaning applications."

When officials with the Department of Homeland Security visited Seacole two years ago, they informed Bell his small company needed a cyber security plan and a site security plan, and it was Bell's job to figure out how to do that.

It's natural to assume a cyber security plan might come down to hardware or software changes, but Bell discovered protecting his business goes way beyond installing a firewall and antivirus software.

At a recent business expo in Rogers, Bell shared his key message that it's educating and training each employee about cyber threats that makes the biggest difference.

"We can put all the locks on the doors, we can put in the fanciest computer systems, but if your employees aren't aware, they can unlock every lock you put on the door and expose your data to the threats," said Bell.
Employee cyber training paid off last week at Seacole when chemist Megan Drennan got an email from a client that seemed off.

"It looked like something this person would send, however, it was a different type of attachment, it wasn't a PDF, it wasn't a Word [document], it was like a website link, so that was kind of weird, and it was more wordy than the person typically is," said Drennan.

She didn't open the attachment, and Seacole later discovered that business client had been hacked.

"It's ever evolving, criminal cyber activity is an ever changing landscape," said Bell.

That truth means businesses can't stop a cyber attack, but a company can minimize its risk.

"You really have to train your employees to be aware," said Bell.

Alexandra Renslo reporting
Twitter: @alexrenslo

November 13, 2017


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