Talk about a rough month. October came with some serious cybersecurity challenges.

First, we must deal with the Kaspersky issue. Does country of origin always have to be considered when choosing computer security software? The answer is yes. I know for a fact there are businesses in Colorado Springs that deal with sensitive personal information which have Kaspersky (Russian computer security software) installed on their systems. Some of these businesses are unaware that last month, Kaspersky software was hacked. Through this hack, information was given to the National Security Agency, which exposed malicious code embedded in the software that allows remote attackers to gain access to computers and data.

I’ve had my suspicions before this became public knowledge and was able to take measures to mitigate this exploit. Even with the news coming out early in October, businesses still have the software on their computers. If you have Kaspersky software on your computer systems, erase it immediately!

Too many businesses think they are saving money by not investing in professional IT support services. Many of these services are provided by managed service providers. Whatever your reason is for not investing in these services, just know that it only takes one hack to destroy your business.

What many business owners miss is that they are not only putting their data at risk but their clients’ information as well. For example, there is a business in town that shares the internet with other businesses via the same network. If any computer on that network gets breached, they are all at risk. This business also shares a wireless network with all the independent businesses. When guests and clients visit, the business gives the guests the password to the same wireless network that the business’ computers are connected to. The cable modem they all share still has the default username and password.

After being briefed on the risk and what it would cost to secure their systems, the response from the business owner was that they haven’t had any issues in the last 10 to 15 years. This is their reason to keep their systems unsecured and exposed to cyber-attack. The cyber-threat has significantly increased over the last 10 to 15 years. Also, that business has been exposing their client data for the last 10 to 15 years. I also know of accounting firms, law firms and private medical practices that are exposed to the same risk.

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What do all those at-risk businesses have in common? They have not invested in a professional company to manage their information technology. Instead, they are trying to manage it themselves without the knowledge to do so adequately. This leaves their business, their clients and other businesses exposed to cyber attacks. There are plenty of choices for managed IT and cybersecurity companies in Colorado Springs. Shop around and find which one is a good fit for your business.

Not only is outsourcing your IT services something you should consider, but you should also consider cyber liability insurance. Ask your insurance provider about this coverage. My goal is to help businesses before they get hacked but if they don’t seek help until after the damage is done, they will need the cyber liability insurance.

If you make the decisions at a company vulnerable to a cyber attack, contact the National Cybersecurity Center for guidance. And tune in next time as I share more high-risk business stories, cyber threats and recommendations. Ransomware attacks rose 250 percent in 2017. Your business is not too small to be a target. #dontbenext

Rodney Gullatte, Jr. is the founder and owner of Firma IT Solutions. Contact Gullatte at 719-377-6603 or learn more at firmaitss.com.