The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) wrapped up its 2016 national summer conference in San Antonio this week. Over three days, 230 attendees heard presentations on cybersecurity, sustainability, electrochromic glazing and other issues of interest to the fenestration industry. Additionally, there were plenty of networking opportunities , such as a golf tournament and a tour of the Texas Ranger Museum.

Door and Window Market Update 

One highlight for members was an in-depth presentation on AAMA’s 2015/2016 Study of the U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and Skylights, which shows that the 2015 market for non-residential entry doors in the U.S. was up 5 percent over 2014 and up 16 percent since 2013.

Safeguard Your Businesses Online

Keynote speaker Larry D. Sjelin, chief of staff for the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas at San Antonio, advised attendees to not underestimate the importance of a highly trained IT staff and of regularly changing complex passwords.

“A common misconception is that small and mid-sized businesses aren’t targets for cybersecurity,” Sjelin said. “This is not the case.”

Sjelin quoted a 2015 report on construction technology that found 60 percent of small businesses go under once they have a cyber attack.

“They don’t have the ability to bounce back,” he said.

In addition , 87 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses don’t have a formal written internet security policy, and 68 percent don’t provide cybersecurity training. And yet, said Sjelin, 60 percent of attacks in 2015 were against businesses of these sizes.

In order to prevent an attack, Sjelin suggested having best practices in place for how to secure data, dispose of documents, safely use the internet and report incidents or potential threats. He recommended having a business continuity plan (BCP) and/or a disaster recovery plan (DRP).

“A detailed DRP in place says how to deal if your company is targeted,” he explained. “Eight out of 10 small businesses don’t have a basic cyber attack response plan.”

A lack of cloud security was a consistent theme in the 2015 report, he found. As a result, Sjelin asked attendees to invest in dedicated IT personnel and to increase the protectiveness of passwords. He advised against using numerical sequences or birthdays in passwords.

“When it comes to passwords, the longer they are, the better,” he said.

Here are six cybersecurity tips from Sjelin:

  1. If you don’t have a shredding program in your business, you need one;
    2. Training is key; organize cyber awareness training for everyone on staff;
    3. Encrypt portable devices like laptops, smart phones, etc.;
    4. Back up everything, and test those backups;
    5. Avoid social media and personal email on work computers, especially those which directly handle customer data, and;
    6. Never leave your password out on a Post-It note on your desk.

His department has developed a game to educate the next generation about the importance of cybersecurity. Cyber Threat Defender, a new card game, teaches the importance of cyber security while seeking to ingrain the concept into the culture for safety down the road. The game was released three months ago and is similar to Magic: The Gathering, a popular card game.

“The game is part of a national effort toward building this culture of cybersecurity,” said Sjelin.