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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris in Collaboration With Lookout Issues Guide for Small Businesses to Protect Against Cyber Attacks, Data Breaches

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued recommendations to California businesses to help protect against and respond to the increasing threat of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks.

"My office issued this guide to support California’s businesses and ensure a robust economy,” Attorney General Harris said. “Technology has created new opportunities and new risks for California businesses, including cyber attacks. This guide offers specific, straightforward recommendations to help businesses continue to thrive by reducing cyber security risks to employees and customers.”

The guide, Cybersecurity in the Golden State, provides recommendations focused on small to mid-sized businesses, which are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime and often lack the resources to hire cybersecurity personnel. In 2012, 50% of all cyber attacks were aimed at businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees and 31% were aimed at those with less than 250 employees.

Click here to view Cybersecurity in the Golden State:

The guide is a product of a collaborative effort between the California Attorney General’s office, the California Chamber of Commerce and Lookout, a mobile security company.

“Prevention is the best medicine. Not only does the guide provide useful information to reduce the threat of cybercrime, it highlights the need to be proactive in preventing data breaches. This is good for California businesses and consumers,” said Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce.

“Security should not be viewed as a technology problem; it needs to be viewed as a business problem. If companies take a more proactive approach to security, they mitigate issues related to cyber risk,” said Kevin Mahaffey, co-founder and CTO at Lookout. “We’re happy to collaborate with Attorney General Harris to identify the steps businesses can take to improve their security practices -- for companies of all sizes.”

Key Recommendations for small business owners:

  • Assume you are a target and develop an incident response plan now.
  • Review the data your business stores and shares with third parties including backup storage and cloud computing. Once you know what data you have and where it is, get rid of what is not necessary.
  • Encrypt the data you need to keep. Strong encryption technology is now commonly available for free, and it is easy to use.
  • Follow safe online practices such as regularly updating firewall and antivirus software on all devices, using strong passwords, avoiding downloading software from unknown sources and practicing safe online banking by only using a secure browser connection.

In 2003, California was the first state to pass a law (AB 700) mandating data breach notification, which requires businesses and state agencies to notify Californians when their personal information is compromised in security breach. In 2012, companies and state agencies subject to the law were required for the first time to report any breach that involved more than 500 Californians to the Attorney General’s Office (SB 24). That first year, The Attorney General’s office received reports of 131 data breaches, which placed the personal information of an estimated 2.5 million Californians at risk. More information is available here:

Attorney General Harris created the eCrime Unit in 2011 to identify and prosecute cyber crimes such as hacking, theft of intellectual property, identity theft, on-line fraud and extortion and identity theft. Attorney General Harris also established the office’s Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit in 2012 to enforce federal and state privacy laws regulating the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information by individuals, organizations, and the government.

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