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Someone you should know: Emory Simmons, Matthews Chamber president, to speak on cybersecurity

Emory Simmons is president of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce, and president of CMIT Solutions of South Charlotte.
Emory Simmons is president of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce, and president of CMIT Solutions of South Charlotte.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the Matthews Chamber is hosting a free seminar on the topic for business owners on Oct. 20.

Speaker Emory Simmons, the chamber president, knows the subject: He’s president of CMIT Solutions of South Charlotte, which provides tech support services for small and midsize businesses.

Simmons answered questions for ShopTalk on what small business owners should consider when it comes to cybersecurity. His email responses were edited for brevity:

Q: Are small companies more, or less vulnerable than larger ones to cybersecurity issues?

A: In some ways, small businesses are less vulnerable. In close-knit organizations, companies have an easier time verifying an unusual request to transfer funds or deciding whether to open an unexpected email attachment.

Having said this, smaller companies typically don’t have a point person on staff that can respond to threats, and also are less likely to have well-maintained computer systems and secure networks.

Q: What types of cybersecurity threats affect small businesses?

A: Cybercriminals can pilfer money from business banking accounts. Often, banks are not obliged to replace the lost funds. Typically, these thefts start as targeted emails that appear to be sent from a business owner to their accounting person authorizing transfer of funds to an overseas account.

Some cyber criminals use new payment systems such as Bitcoin to collect from victims. One example is

There’s Ransomware, which encrypts files on computers and networks and then offers to unlock files for $300 or more. Cyber criminals use new payment systems such as Bitcoin to collect from victims.

Q: Can the typical small-business owner afford solutions that might improve their security?

A: There are small changes every business can make to reduce their exposure and be better prepared if a breach occurs. Here are some of my recommendations:

▪ Ask for multi-factor authentication to be added to your banking, payroll, and other online accounts that contain sensitive information. This is the most important defense available for protecting your business from many fraudulent activities.

▪ Change those weak passwords! Don’t be that company where everyone uses the same password to log in to every system. Avoid common passwords like “Password1” or your company mascot by using a password manager to create unique passwords for every system accessed.

▪ Ask the person most familiar with your business workflow to create an inventory of the computers, mobile devices, software, cloud services, websites, and data backup systems used by your business. They should also create a list of authorized employees and the system access they need to do their jobs.

Want to go?

Oct. 20 - Cyber Security for Small Businesses

Learn how you can beat the hackers, easily identify your risks and start protecting your assets today. Presented by Emory Simmons of CMIT Solutions of South Charlotte. Part of the Matthews Chamber’s Business Owners Seminar Series. Free. 4 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. at the Matthews Chamber Office, 210 Matthews Station St. Register at bit.ly/1FY666W.

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