Small business workshop to focus on cyber security

GVL / Sara Carte
Business student, Haley Jennings, studies for midterms in the Seidman college of Business on Oct. 14.

Sara Carte

GVL / Sara Carte Business student, Haley Jennings, studies for midterms in the Seidman college of Business on Oct. 14.

Taylor Fussman

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) at Grand Valley State University will host a “Small Business, Big Threat” workshop to address issues of cyber security on Dec. 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

As technology continues to play a large role in people’s personal and professional lives, knowledge about cyber security is of increasing importance.

The workshop will focus on educating small business owners and future entrepreneurs on the importance of cyber security, the affects a hack can have on a business and various steps that can be taken to protect these small businesses from cyber threats.

Some of the main points of discussion include protecting company information, password protection, buying and selling online, physical and mobile security and what to do if a company’s security is breached.

John Hey, of Trivalent Group, Inc., is leading the workshop. Trivalent Group, Inc. is a group that works with more than 600 businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits, financial institutions and healthcare organizations to assist with their technology infrastructure.

Zara Smith, a strategic program manager in the MI-SBDC, said the Trivalent Group provided much of the content for “Small Business, Big Threat.”

Along with the main presenter, there will be a panel to discuss the issue of cyber security consisting of Curt Rypma of Schenk, Boncher & Rypma, P.C., Brian Swaid of Chemical Bank, Keith Brophy of the MI-SBDC and William Fisher of GVSU.

While the workshop is aimed at small businesses, students who are interested in this field can also benefit from attending the event.

“The workshop is valuable for students who intend to start a business, or become employed by a business. Entrepreneurial education usually focuses on marketing, finance and sales,” Smith said. “Cyber security for small businesses can be overlooked, yet ignoring it can be financially expensive and can effect a business’ reputation.”

Smith said cyber security breaches cost $100 billion in the U.S. alone, and 60 percent of companies breached are never able to recover. The MI-SBDC recognizes the value of educating employees and business owners on the risks and safeguards necessary for protecting small businesses.

Furthermore, McAfee Labs, one of the world’s leading sources for threat research and cyber security, reported in its 2016 Threat Prediction Report that the growth in cloud computing will create new vulnerabilities and threats to the system.

Due to reports such as this, the “Small Business, Big Threat” workshop was developed to inform students and the community about how to safeguard against threats.

The workshop is free to attend, and all participants will complete a brief survey beforehand. The survey is aimed at helping participants become familiar with the basics of cyber security for small businesses before even attending the workshop.

“The small business cyber security assessment was designed to be a learning tool which presents multiple viewpoints on each topic,” Smith said.

The event takes place in the L. William Seidman Center on the Pew Campus. To complete the survey online, visit