New England is rapidly becoming a technology haven—the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce has plans to focus on “the technology sector and innovation economy” in 2015, according to the Boston Herald. Groups like the Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC) are looking for ways to help keep tech companies safe in this burgeoning investment environment; what can brick-and-mortar businesses learn from these tech-focused efforts?
Share and Share Alike
As discussed by Network World, one critical focus for ACSC is sharing threat information among members. Executive Director Charlie Benway says that this is of great benefit to companies because the can “exchange best practices and can take ideas back and improve the security posture of their own enterprises.” He points to examples such as fake Google.com URLs and University payroll scams that ACSC members uncovered and then passed on to the membership at large, increasing overall safety.
It’s worth noting that the ACSC sharing mandate works in part because it is an open, two-way exercise. Benway points to the work of a similar group, Infragard, which is led by the FBI. Although the organization has a similar goal, liability concerns prevent totally open communication, potentially hampering the actionable value of insights and relegating them to a more strategic focus.
The Business Connection
So what can the work of ACSC and similar organizations do for small and midsize businesses in New England, even if they’re not tech-focused? First is the recognition that all companies—no matter the size—now rely on some type of technology to accomplish business aims. This could be cloud computing access, the widespread use of mobile devices, or even something as simple as an E-commerce site. Security information sharing, therefore, is a critical part of keeping any business safe.
This model also applies to physical safety. Too often businesses don’t want to report break-ins, damage or crimes for fear that their bottom line will suffer if customers or partners deem them “unsafe.” In fact, if crime is happening to one local business chances are that multiple others in the area have also been affected; sharing information makes it less likely that companies will be victimized a second or third time and can help catch criminals in the act. This effort is made more effective with the help of local police and the sharing of hard data such as security camera videos or image captures along with information gleaned from security technology regarding suspect details, what was stolen and any physical evidence left behind.
New England’s new focus on technology and security has big benefits for tech innovators but also offers a companion lesson for brick-and-mortar companies: Sharing data about criminal actions and activity patterns helps minimize risk and puts criminals on the ropes—when businesses talk about what’s happening and come together to prevent re-occurrence, criminals are out of luck.
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