Cybersecurity help coming for franchises

Two industry groups are teaming up to help franchise businesses learn about cybersecurity.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) — backed by companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft, as well as the Department of Homeland Security — will work with the International Franchise Association (IFA) on basic cybersecurity strategy.

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The IFA represents franchise owners from a broad swath of well-known chains, including 1-800-Flowers, 7-Eleven, Dairy Queen, Jiffy Lube, Papa John’s and KFC.

“Many small- and medium-sized businesses are franchises that rely on computerized networks and digital records — making them extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of NCSA.

The government has been working with businesses to improve cybersecurity standards, with the White House enlisting industry groups to help create a voluntary cybersecurity framework fort he private sector that was released earlier this year.

While larger businesses and industry associations participated in the creation of the framework, smaller businesses have been less present. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of corporate directors found only 9 percent of directors at companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue had discussed the cybersecurity guidance.

“We want to ensure that small businesses are empowered and have smart cybersecurity plans in place to stay safe online,” Kaiser said.

A spokeswoman for IFA said the framework from the National Institute of Standards and Technology will play a role in the cybersecurity outreach to franchises. She pointed to the NCSA’s recently launched RE:Cyber, a cybersecurity resource center for businesses that was created as a result of the framework.

The IFA and NCSA “will work toward a collective goal to educate business owners about the basic steps they can take to become more cyber-secure,” said Robert Cresanti, IFA executive vice president of government relations and public policy.