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Federal Trade Commission unveils website to help small businesses fend off cyberattacks

May 10, 2017 Washington — The Federal Trade Commission has launched a new website aimed at helping small business owners avoid scams and protect their computers and networks from cyberattacks and other threats.

The website — ftc.gov/SmallBusiness — provides articles, videos and other information on cyberattacks, which have the potential to be devastating to small businesses. Small businesses often lack the resources that larger companies have to devote to cybersecurity, according to a FTC news release.

“Small businesses are critical to our economic strength, building America's future and helping the United States compete in today's global marketplace,” Maureen Ohlhausen, FTC acting chair, said in the release. “This innovative new website is a one-stop shop where small businesses can find information to protect themselves from scammers and hackers, as well as resources they can use if they are hit with a cyberattack.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are more than 28 million small businesses nationwide, employing nearly 57 million people. Scammers frequently target small businesses with deceptive tactics designed to get them to pay for supplies they didn’t order, donate to fake charities or trick them into giving access to their network or downloading malware that can corrupt their business’s computers.

Cybersecurity firm Symantec Corp.’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report indicated that the percentage of spear-phishing attacks targeting small business rose from 18 percent to 43 percent between 2011 and 2015. Spear-phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails ostensibly from a known or trusted sender in order to induce targeted individuals to reveal confidential information.

The FTC’s new website includes a new Small Business Computer Security Basics guide, which shares tips to help companies protect their files and devices, train employees to think twice before sharing the business’s account information and keep their wireless network protected. In addition, it also provides guidance on how to respond to a data breach. It also has information on other cyberthreats such as ransomware — computer malware that installs covertly on a victim's device — and phishing schemes targeting small businesses.