New partnership aims to protect Arizona small businesses from cyber threats

Protecting your small business is already difficult, but cyber attacks can really complicate things and drain your account as well.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 12:36 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Names, addresses, financial information. That’s valuable stuff for scammers. “We have a lot of very confidential information,” said Jim Chakires, the managing partner of Apex CPAs and Consultants.

The business has 23 employees in Phoenix and Illinois. “Maintaining very tight cyber security is extremely important for us,” Chakires said. “Back in the old days, people used to rob banks. Now they’re robbing CPA firms, so we have to be very mindful of that.”

But many small businesses aren’t - or feel like they can’t afford to be. “Small businesses are being attacked because they have weak defenses,” said Sai Huda, the founder and CEO of CyberCatch. “They don’t really know much about cyber security and the bad guys are figuring it out.”

According to Huda, CyberCatch recently scanned nearly 20,000 small business websites, including some in Arizona. “We found that 8 out of 10 have vulnerabilities on their websites they aren’t aware of,” Huda said. To make cyber security a more affordable for small businesses in the state, CyberCatch just launched a partnership with the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA). “We protect small businesses by scanning their websites, finding vulnerabilities, helping fix it by testing employees with simulated phishing emails to make sure they’re going to be on guard, and testing all of the controls inside the network,” Huda said.

Emma Lenihan, the director of program development at ASBA said the group is excited about the partnership, and working to educate its 3,000 members about cyber security. “I don’t think that businesses understand how important this is for their businesses,” Lenihan said. “It’s changing their mindset of this is so important. This is seriously like an insurance for your business. You wouldn’t run a business without insurance.”

At Apex CPAs and Consultants, the security includes 2-factor authentication, changing passwords regularly, and ongoing communication with employees to help protect against phishing attacks. “This is a challenge that isn’t going away,” Chakires said.