Why Chambers of Commerce Are Cyber Attack Targets & How They Can Protect Themselves
Chamber of Commerce groups, according to Investopedia, are associations and networks of businesspeople designed to promote and protect the interests of their members. These associations have been increasing in number across the United States as like-minded business professionals seek the opportunity to assemble, discuss, strategize, and network, but Chambers and the businesses they serve are under attack?
Chambers of Commerce significantly influence the businesses that are a part of their association. Because of this, Chambers can also influence public opinion. Therefore, for those who want access to the companies Chambers serve, or wish to sway the public's view, Chambers are often the first place they target.
Now, imagine someone with malicious intent having the power to maneuver or access the Chambers of Commerce. The possibilities of damage are endless. From stealing donations and company dues to gaining access to sensitive information about the businesses in the Chamber and their employees, truly chambers and the companies that make up those organizations are just one cyber-attack away from losing access to key data.
Why are Chambers under attack?
1. Chambers house a lot of sensitive data
They have access to many businesses, which makes them a lucrative one-stop shop for attackers seeking sensitive information.
2. Lack of cyber awareness
Chambers, like many businesses, lack proper cyber awareness and resilience. It is easy to assume that because Chambers of Commerce serve as connectors in their communities more than provide a service, there is no need to have structures in place to protect you and your members. This oversight on the part of many Chambers makes them highly susceptible to attacks.
3. Using unsecured communication channels
Using social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook groups, and many others can make the organization susceptible to cyber-attacks. It has been reported that scammers/hackers have recently been using WhatsApp groups as another attack mechanism. They use the numbers of group members and send links within the group that allow them to access sensitive information if clicked.
4. Using outdated systems
There is a tendency to delay updating your software. We've all done it as sometimes our computers and phones present the worst possible time to update, so we decline it and forget to try again later. Using outdated administrative, communicative, or essential computer tools can make it easy for a cyber-attack.
5. Lack of training
Lastly, general gaps in cyber knowledge and training make Chambers highly susceptible to cyber-attacks. While many people's understanding of good cyber hygiene may vary, it takes one person and an error to allow space for an attack.
The consequences of Chamber cyber attacks.
The British Chambers of Commerce conducted research that revealed that a cyber-attack had hit over 1200 businesses in the last 12 months, which makes up 20% of the respondents. This statistic shows that every business, regardless of size, needs to be on guard.
A study conducted by Oxford economics and CGI, a renowned cybersecurity firm, showed that a business's share price reduces by an average of 1.8% when they experience a cyber-attack and never recover. This means that a typical FTSE 100 firm can lose an average of $150 million after a breach. The implications are too dire not to take the necessary steps.
How can Chambers mitigate their risk?
There are grave risks to choosing inaction when it comes to the security of your Chamber and the businesses it serves. Here's how you can mitigate your risk and prevent cyber attacks altogether.
1. Invest in cyber awareness training
It is vital to have Chamber staff and the businesses it serves complete cyber awareness training. These training sessions will equip everyone with the basic steps to avoid such attacks and additional ways to mitigate risk. Here at 1600 Avenue, we're committed to ensuring everyone has proper cyber education. Contact us today to discuss how we can lead you on your journey to cyber readiness and host a workshop to provide your team and the companies you serve with the proper knowledge to protect yourselves.
2. Update your Software
It should be mandatory that all working within the Chamber or on platforms supported by the Chamber keep their software up-to-date. There are ways to mandate that people do this by making sites and servers inaccessible unless they have updated to the best available version of their software. You can reach out to us, and we can set that in place for your Chamber as a step toward your cyber readiness plan.
3. Get professional help
With the help of cyber professionals such as 1600 Avenue, you can get a cyber readiness plan made to meet your unique Chamber's needs. Making plans for how you will deal with data, documentation, personnel, and more from a security standpoint is vital. We can help you champion this process and ensure you're Chamber is best protected against attacks.
For more information on cyber readiness and how Chambers can best protect themselves against attacks, check out our blog. Remember, by becoming a Chamber that's cyber-ready, you're not just protecting yourself. You're also protecting the businesses you serve.