BBB Starts Small Business Data Security Initiative

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The Council of Better Business Bureaus in conjunction with sponsors from the business world began an initiative yesterday to help small businesses provide better data security and privacy for customers and employees.

Despite the media focus on larger companies' data breaches over the past year, the BBB has identified the same issues with smaller businesses.

"Small businesses are as vulnerable, if not more, than their larger counterparts to data breaches," said Steve Cole, president/CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, during the kickoff news conference in Washington, DC. "Today, we are launching an initiative to provide needed and practical help to small businesses for free."

Of the 380,000 BBB members nationwide, he said, at least 90 percent qualify as small businesses under the Small Business Administration definition of a company with 500 employees or fewer.

BBB teamed with Alan F. Westin, founder of Privacy & American Business, and Lance J. Hoffman, founder/director of George Washington University Cyberspace Policy Institute, to create the program. Its first offering is a downloadable security and privacy toolkit at This 22-page document features guidelines to help small businesses protect data from identity theft and fraud.

Cole said that the next step would be a Webinar, currently under production.

Corporate BBB sponsors in this initiative include IBM, Visa, Equifax, Verizon Wireless, eBay, PayPal and the Wall Street Journal, with an open invitation for more sponsors. These companies will distribute the information to clients.

The Direct Marketing Association was supposed to be a sponsor but was unable to get the agreement settled in time, DMA spokeswoman Stephanie Hendricks said.

"We certainly support what they're doing and encourage all of our small business members to make use of the resources," she said.

Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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