Seminar for small-business owners offers strategies for blocking cybercriminals

STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

MARBLE FALLS — Low-hanging fruit. That’s how cybercriminals describe small businesses and their often inability to protect themselves from cyberattacks.   

John Wright, a cybersecurity consultant, said he has seen how criminals ambush unprotected computer systems to steal valuable data, putting the business owner at risk.

“They aren’t very secure,” Wright said of the computer systems many small businesses use. “Securing their infrastructure, application security, enterprise security, web applications, and training for small companies – it’s very important. Seventy-one percent of the attacks are on small businesses because they’re easy. Easy because people don’t know how to protect their Wi-Fi devices and mobile phones.”

Wright, founder of Sair Cybersecurity Consulting, is giving a free presentation on “How to Keep Your Business Safe Online” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 6, at Uptown Art House, 218 Main St. It is geared toward small-business owners.

“What we’re trying to do is make it less likely you’ll be hacked,” he said. “We want to make you higher-hanging fruit.”

Wright has been in software development for more than 30 years. As a software engineering developer, he’s basically an architect, building and designing with computer code.

Wright said cybersecurity has always interested him.

A decade ago, Wright earned a master’s degree in management of information security systems then accepted a position at HP Fortify, a software security center. Five years ago, he decided to contract his services to set up security systems.   

Horseshoe Bay Business Alliance and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute asked Wright, a Horseshoe Bay resident, to give presentations on securing computers.

During his June 6 presentation, Wright will give examples of cyberattacks, including one on a casino during which the criminals hacked the system through the thermostat and fish tank. He’ll also describe a sophisticated attack on Netflix, a subscription-based TV and movie website.

He noted just about any type of technology is at risk: electric switches, refined thermostats — almost anything that has made our lives convenient.

“Everything is actually a small computer,” Wright said. “They’re all hackable.”

A large number of computers have internet robots, or bots, that are used to perform repetitive jobs. Attacks often come in the form of malware bots used to gain control of a computer.

Wright pointed out that one reason authorities struggle to catch hackers is because most attacks are done in a manner in which the victim doesn’t realize it happened.

“So, they’re in and out without you knowing,” he said. “In the world we live in, they steal your customers’ information. A big thing is stealing your email addresses.”

The cybersecurity consultant emphasized that most people simply don’t know how to protect sensitive information.

“People are scared,” he said. “Most of the people I deal with are small-business owners. I’m going to give tips and strategies, for the most part.”

Among his suggestions are updating computer operating systems, using strong passwords, and separating your computer from data servers.

“You can make your stuff more secure,” Wright said. “I have the ability to scan your stuff. We offer an assessment and help in getting secure and regular auditing.”  

Go to saircc.com or call (512) 953-7247 for more information about Sair Cybersecurity Consulting.

Call Business Affairs Referrals and Contacts at (512) 800-0923 or visit barcontacts.com for more about the seminar.

“It annoys me that small businesses get hacked so easy,” Wright said. “There are things they can do to fix it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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