The Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce met for its main monthly meeting last week to welcome new members, announce upcoming events and educate members on cyber security.
The meeting is often used for local business networking and board president Ryan James welcomed any new members at the meeting.
“Our chamber membership is growing leaps and bounds,” he said. “We are at one of our all-time record highs and it’s continuing to build up.”
Executive director Samantha St. John began the meeting by listing the chamber’s sponsors, which includes the Reporter. Additionally, she announced that the chamber board has endorsed the Lake Washington School District’s 2018 bond and levies.
“Education is the No. 1 thing we can support for business development,” said Walt Krueger, a Lake Washington Citizens Levy Committee executive member.
Residents within LWSD boundaries will vote on the bond and two replacement levies on Feb. 13.
Additionally, the chamber also promoted their town hall event on Jan. 30, which will educate the community on youth mental health.
Usually, chamber events also feature a theme or educational presentation. This month the focus was on cyber security and how small businesses can protect themselves from cyber attacks and data loss.
Ellie Bachaud from Stratocent Technologies in Kirkland gave the presentation and provided numerous examples of cyber crime and how small businesses can protect themselves against such attacks. The most common types of cyber crime include bank information theft, identity theft and unauthorized computer access.
According to Bachaud, all these crimes fall mainly into two categories: those that attack computer networks and those that use a computer network to advance another crime, such as identity theft.
Small businesses are mostly hit with crimes in the second category because cyber criminals wouldn’t gain much from disabling a small business’s network as opposed to a large, corporate company.
“So why would somebody be a cyber criminal?” Bachaud asked the chamber. “If you look at it, it’s actually kind of an ideal business structure. It’s scalable, anonymous, super profitable, very low risk and really hard to copy.”
The cyber crime industry makes $2 trillion a year, according to Bachaud.
“The question really becomes why wouldn’t you become some cyber criminal?” she said with a laugh.
There are many ways cyber criminals can steal information, but there are also many ways to protect that information.
Bachaud first recommended that business owners watch for unknown links or phishing emails, which may trick someone into downloading a virus or giving away important information.
“What’s valuable to know in a phishing attack is how to look for a phishing attack,” Bachaud said. “Look at the email address it came from…the email domain is a really great tell, if it’s not (a legitimate domain) do not click the link.”
She added that cyber criminals often hope that small business owners are too busy to check an email address and one of the best ways to protect themselves is to take 10 seconds and make sure it’s legitimate.
Additionally, small business owners should never use an unknown USB drive and keep their computers updates with the latest anti-virus software.
“Windows defender is not sufficient,” she said. “Everybody has a job to do, including the cyber criminals and their job is to get on your machine.”