By Jenna Dennison
Whatcom Community College’s division of Community and Continuing Education will be offering a series of cybersecurity classes for small businesses throughout spring quarter. The classes cater to small business owners and employees that want to become more aware of their online presence, and also focuses on how businesses can protect their online information.
Whatcom has offered business classes to the community for the past 20 years, and its noncredit classes have covered topics such as starting a small business, bookkeeping, and other traditional business concerns. Recently, Whatcom received requests for classes that would focus on digital business concerns, such as keeping business information safer and complying with client information guidelines. Shandeen Gemanis, the Continuing Education and Contract Training Specialist at Whatcom said, “Obviously, Whatcom has been offering credit degree programs in cybersecurity, and we thought we should do something that’s more for the layperson in the business.” The noncredit cybersecurity workshops for businesses began last winter with ten community members in attendance.
“We’re giving them the basic information of what they need to know and what they need to be aware of,” said Gemanis. “They’re so focused on their business, and it’s just more helpful for them to come and take a workshop and learn everything they need to know, rather than trying to find all the information on their own.” Since the program is new, Gemanis expects that it will grow as more business owners learn about the course offerings.
The workshops will be taught by attorney Eric P. Blank, whom has expertise on topics related to computer forensics, software, and database security. Blank is the founder and principal of the Blank Law + Technology firm based out of Mount Vernon, and has served as an expert witness in court cases regarding technology law issues.
“Ninety percent of cybersecurity breaches are preventable by a few basic measures that many businesses don’t think to take,” said Blank, adding, “In just a short amount of time you can learn what you can do to prevent 90 percent of breaches.” Blank also added that businesses often do not update administrative passwords, software, or enforce password security on company computers, which may leave them vulnerable to cyberattacks.
. While at Whatcom, Blank will be covering topics such as the protection of digital and online business information, how to respond to a cybersecurity breach, how to contract with third party vendors that control a majority of business’ data, and safe methods for moving data from multiple devices over cloud computing.
“[These classes] will mean you’re not the most visible or attractive target, and that makes all the difference.” said Blank.
Those who are interested in participating in the workshops may choose to attend the entire class series, or may select classes that best suit their businesses’ needs. A single course costs $55, and the entire class series will cost $139. The workshops began on April 12, with the remaining workshops taking place on May 10 and June 7 in the Foundation Building. Community members may register at whatcomcommunityed.com or call 360-383-3200 for additional information.