I was recently invited by a leader in Supplier Diversity, Richard Chacon – Director of Supplier Diversity and Development for Union Bank, to attend a Business Matchmaking (BMM) event held in San Jose. Union Bank is very active in the MBE community (I know Richard through the NMSDC) and they support a variety of organizations, including being a sponsor of BMM. If you’re not familiar with them, BMM supports procurement opportunities for small businesses in every industry, producing regional face-to-face selling events, plenary seminars and workshops, online training and collateral material for MBEs. This was my first time attending one of their events and I must say I was very impressed by the efforts of the many corporate sponsors and participants that made this event so informational and thus successful.
In addition to Richard and his colleagues from Union Bank, there were many professionals from leading corporations such as Norton, HP, Lockheed Martin, PAR, PG&E, SoCal Edison, Nova Group, and other resource partners. They participated in a morning panel session that educated entrepreneurs and businesses about the importance of protecting your business from cyber threats and provided tips and best practices for doing so. The panel discussion was followed by scheduled matchmaking sessions
The panel focused on cyber threats and the related crime that affects businesses every day. Now for some of you, this may not seem like it would apply to your business; you might not think you have data that criminals want. The truth though, is that you most likely do and there are people out there waiting to hold your data hostage. It was great to hear from experts, right here in the technology capital, and get some practical advice on an issue that we should all be concerned about.
If you are an MBE looking to do business with a corporation, or really any business, you need to be aware of the issue and protect your data, not only for your own good, but so that the companies you do business with know they are protected as well. Many of the recent data breaches have occurred because of a weakness in a partner or third party supplier’s security. Companies need to know that you are not a threat to their business because of lax protocols; it is your job to prove that you have done all that is needed to protect yourself, your customers, and your business partners from cybercrime.
The discussion and advice given during the session covered a variety of topics such as:
- Fishing and Hacking – How cyber criminals get you on the hook to spend money with tax related calls, emails asking for personal info verification, etc.
- Wiring money – Do you do business overseas? There are people monitoring emails that can see who you do business with and will pretend to be your legitimate business partner and try to get you to wire them money, and once you do, it is gone.
- Countering the threats – How having a pre-arranged fax number for payments can be helpful, as well as a dedicated computer and email that is used solely for business banking. This will help prevent you from getting hacked into easily.
- Education – How educating your employees about threats, how to recognize and prevent them by following the right protocols and processes, will help you avoid problems.
This is just a small sampling of the information shared but I think it shows how helpful the session was and could be for you. They are taking this cyber threat topic on the road and holding similar events in cities across the U.S. If you are interested, consider attending one in your area. They also have information available about cyber insurance for small businesses. Finally, they cover many other interesting topics, so if this one doesn’t appeal to you or doesn’t come to your neck of the woods, check out their other offerings. I’m sure something will appeal to you and the matchmaking opportunities are very worthwhile.
I believe the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” also applies in the business world. It takes companies like Union Bank who are willing to genuinely educate and empower businesses by actively helping them to grow by supporting events such as this. It is invaluable to have businesses that are willing to share their knowledge and experience, in this case on the topic of cyber threats. MBE participants can improve and grow stronger and more ready to do business with large corporations as a result. It’s good for everyone: MBEs become better companies and corporations get better suppliers and business partners
I want to thank Business Matchmaking for hosting this great event, Richard Chacon for inviting me and introducing me to this organization, and Union Bank, and the other corporations, for giving their time and support to helping minority businesses learn, improve, and grow our businesses. Thanks again!
Corporate Outreach Manager, Supplier Diversity