BBB and DHS Partner for National Preparedness Month

9/5/2006

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[Arlington, VA, September 5, 2006] - The Council of Better Business Bureaus is proud to support the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) on-going Ready Campaign and National Preparedness Month (NPM), held annually each September.

The NPM goal is to encourage individuals, businesses and communities to take action to increase their level of basic preparedness for emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist threats. Ready is a three-pronged approach to focusing on preparedness for families, workplaces and children through three initiatives:

  • Ready America - Family Preparedness
  • Ready Business - Workplace Preparedness
  • Ready Kids - An Extension of Family Preparedness

Given its mission to serve as the leader in advancing marketplace trust, the BBB is focusing its support on the Ready Business initiative - building relationships between businesses and consumers in which each party can trust the other to do the right thing, the first time, every time.

In announcing BBB support for the preparedness initiative, Steve Cole, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus noted that, "National Preparedness Month provides a superb opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their trustworthiness. Consumers trust that business services will be available in times of need, workers trust employers to safeguard them physically and protect livelihoods, and business partners trust each other to deliver on promises regardless of the circumstances."

The BBB will compliment DHS efforts with its own product and service offerings to owners and managers of small businesses, available online at www.bbb.org. Ready Business preparedness information can be found at www.ready.gov, and the Campaign's Spanish language version Listo is available at www.listo.gov.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for more than 99 percent of all employers; provide approximately 75 percent of the net new jobs added to the economy; and represent 97 percent of all U.S. exporters.

Given the impact of small business, The Ad Council conducted a small business survey in October 2005, finding that 92 percent of respondents said it is very or somewhat important for businesses to prepare for a catastrophic disaster, and 88 percent agreed that having a business continuity plan would make good sense. However, only 39 percent said their company has an emergency plan and only 59 percent assessed their own business as prepared for a disaster.

Similarly, a recent Small Business Technology Institute Survey found that nearly 70 percent of small businesses consider information security a high priority, and more than 80 percent exhibit confidence in their existing protective measures. However, 56 percent experienced one or more security incidents in the past 12 months, leaving perception at odds with reality.

Survey findings also note that nearly 75 percent of small businesses do not have an information security plan, almost one-fifth do not use virus scanning for e-mail, and more than 60 percent do not protect their wireless networks with even the simplest form of encryption.

"A data breach can be devastating for a business and its customers - it's a breach of trust that can happen at any time, either as part of another emergency situation or as a stand-alone event. When it comes to information security, business owners and managers simply must plan ahead to protect their investments and their customers' personal information, and by doing so they will earn and retain the trust of consumers," said Cole.

For specific information on developing a security and privacy plan for small businesses, the BBB is offering a free, downloadable program entitled Security & Privacy - Made Simpler. The program simplifies cyber-security issues and gives small businesses a non-technical roadmap to secure sensitive customer data.

The program includes easy-to-read security and privacy toolkits. Program materials are now available online at: www.bbb.org/securityandprivacy.

Business owners, managers and consumers can find more preparedness information and BBB Tips on specific preparedness topics online at www.bbb.org.

About The Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.
The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 115 Better Business Bureaus (BBB) across the US. Founded in 1912, the BBB system is supported today by nearly 400,000 business members - ranging in size from local enterprises to multinational corporations. The BBB system is dedicated to advancing trust between businesses and consumers, deepening consumer confidence, and contributing to an ethics-driven marketplace.

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