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Expert shares best practices for online business security

As originally published in The Kingston Local

Melony Rocco, cybersecurity specialist is helping Kingston's women-owned businesses be safe online 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

During the pandemic, everyone has adapted to online businesses and service provisions due to health and safety protocols and modified business models to stay afloat.

Melony Rocco - Bluebird Investigative Research & Development

The We-Can Project [sic] at Queen’s started their six week cybersecurity information program Feb. 2, for women entrepreneurs in the greater Kingston region who had an established business before COVID-19. 

Melony Rocco, a cybersecurity specialist and owner of Bluebird Investigative Research and Development, facilitated the workshop with We-Can and Kingston businesses to help them become more secure in the online world. She is an Ontario Private Investigator and Certified Internet Research Specialist providing international OSINT investigation services. She also guest teaches at Loyalist College in Belleville on using social media as a positive force, and technology’s impact on modern society. 

Why are businesses vulnerable in cyberspace? 

Business owners, particularly those established before the pandemic arrived, are under immense stress. Add to that the extra challenges women face as business owners, and a less than ideal situation unfolds. The third issue is that cybercrime throughout this last year has increased, in some cases up to 400 per cent, such as attacks on desktop computers using technology that allows for remote connection. With so many challenges facing the female entrepreneur right now, many of whom are just trying to stay financially viable, who has the time to do the research and implement all the recommended cybersecurity best practices? 

“I encounter women regularly, who know that they need to improve their business’ security policies and upgrade key pieces of hardware. However, there are not enough hours in the day to be able to figure out where to start,” Rocco said.

“One takeaway for me in my conversations with these business owners this last year is that the awareness of the urgency in the matter of increasing cybercrime is there. Business owners want to protect their customer data; they see the phishing attempts, hearing stories about data breaches and dealing with their business’ social media accounts getting spoofed,” said Rocco.

How can businesses be safe online? 

With an extensive background in retail management and loss prevention, Rocco offers consulting services specially aimed at small businesses. Rocco suggests being extra cautious with password protocol and never being complacent with personal privacy and security. 

“The number one recommendation for everyone right now, which incidentally is free and easy to do, is tighten your password protocols. Make your passwords long and unique, do not share them, and make sure to change them often. Encryption is also something that every business owner needs to understand. Never store files to the cloud without encrypting first; many extortion attempts can be prevented if this practice is in place.

“I also urge everyone with smart appliances and devices (IoT) to run them on either a second router or a password-protected guest network. We live in a time where our technology is a convenience, but our security is weak,” said Rocco.

About her experience with We-Can [sic] project, Rocco explains getting a sense of purpose helping women entrepreneurs in these tough times. 

“I get an amazing sense of purpose working with WE-CAN because I know that I am helping fortify Canadian businesses and helping women at the same time. I encourage every female business owner to check out the WE-CAN social media pages to find out about free webinars and training opportunities,” said Rocco.