Why You Should Pay Attention to Cybersecurity

Smaller businesses have become targets for cybercriminals because criminals know they have fewer defense resources than large enterprises.  If cybercriminals can breach a small business and steal credentials (e.g., for banking accounts or email access), they can use that information to steal money directly, create attacks on its customers and work their way around the business ecosystem in other nefarious ways.

The 2016 State of Small & Medium-Sized Business Cybersecurity report, independently conducted by Ponemon Institute, LLC and sponsored by Keeper Security, surveyed 598 individuals in companies with 1,000 or fewer employees. The survey revealed 50 percent of Small & Medium-Sized Businesses have been breached in the past 12 months.  Read more on why small and mid-sized businesses should pay attention to cyber security: https://staysafeonline.org/cybersecure-business/.

-Julie R., Director of Enterprise Risk

Cyber Security Awareness Month

Below are some ‘best practices’ Bank Midwest deploys and for you to consider:

  • Back up data regularly.
  • Verify backups are working through testing.
  • Provide training and education.  We are all targets, so everyone needs to be aware of information and data security threats.
  • Enable strong spam filters to prevent phishing emails from reaching ends users and authenticate inbound email using technologies.
  • Require minimum standards for passwords (length, complexity, history, etc.)
  • Leverage next-generation anti-virus technology to inspect files and identify malicious behavior to block malware and malware-less attacks that exploit memory and scripting languages.
  • Block ads.  Ransomware is often distributed through malicious ads served when visiting sites.
  • Patch operating systems, software, and firmware on all technology devices.
  • Configure firewalls to block access to known malicious IP addresses.
  • Use application whitelisting, which only allows systems to execute programs known and permitted by security policy.
  • Conduct an annual penetration test and vulnerability assessment.

– Julie R. Director of Enterprise Risk

Identity Thieves are Great Impersonators. Don’t Get Fooled!

From sending emails that appear to be from companies you know and trust, requesting donations in light of the recent natural disasters (fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes), utilizing fear from the recent Equifax data breach to obtain personally identifiable information (i.e. credit card data, account information, etc.), to adding card-reading devices to ATMs, fraudsters rely on creative ways to obtain your confidential information. Continue reading

Technology and Information Security: What You Think You Know Can Hurt You

When it comes to Internet security, what you think you know can hurt you. A lot of what passes for common sense about this subject is just plain wrong—and often risky. These days we tend to believe that technology can inherently protect us, but that’s not always true. Check out these common misconceptions and see if any apply to you.

Continue reading

Avoid These Financing Mistakes That Kill Business Valuations

Having a well-financed business that doesn’t rely on bad sources of debt goes a long way to making a company attractive to buyers and ensuring that it fetches an attractive valuation. But, the choices that produce a good balance sheet don’t happen overnight; it takes years of preparation to ensure the best possible sale years later. Continue reading

Real Estate Strategies for Small Business Owners as Rates Rise

For even small real estate purchases, you need a financing strategy. In a rising interest rate environment, the cost of capital is edging higher for all small businesses, but especially those who need to purchase property. As a result, U.S. entrepreneurs are returning to banks in large numbers seeking to finance real estate projects.  Continue reading

Searching for your First Apartment

Finding your first apartment can be one of the most exciting times in your life while also being one of the most overwhelming. Renting your first apartment is not only emotionally demanding, but financially challenging as well. Between finding an appropriate rental price, searching for the right neighborhood, and understanding your daily lifestyle habits, searching for your first apartment can be a chaotic process. Check out these tips to try and relieve the anticipated stress of finding your first place. Continue reading

How Small Businesses Can Control Costs in the Early Stages

Owning a small business is an all-out battle to find the right balance between generating revenue and limiting costs. That’s especially true in a business’s first year, when finding a sustainable customer base requires investment.

We asked Rita Cheng, a financial advisor who works with small businesses, about ways entrepreneurs can keep costs down in the early months. She is a member of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor network. Continue reading