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Wednesday, 10 January 2018 17:33

Small business cops brunt of cyber crime attacks Featured

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Small business cops brunt of cyber crime attacks Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Almost half of all cyber crime targets small businesses in Australia, according to a newly released Australian Government pamphlet designed to raise awareness of cyber crime and help small businesses achieve better cyber security preparedness.

Published by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, the pamphlet is titled "Get Cyber Secure – Three Quick Steps to Serenity", the pamphlet notes that 43% of cyber crime targets smaller businesses, and encourages businesspeople to take a proactive approach to cyber security: regular data backups; up-to-date patching of applications; strong passwords; and multi-layered protection.

“Following the WannaCry and Petya ransomware campaigns that caused havoc globally in 2017, 22% of small businesses breached by the attacks were so affected they could not continue operating. 60% of small businesses that experience a significant cyber breach go out of business within the following six months. Small businesses cannot afford to be complacent about cybersecurity,” warns the Ombudsman, Kate Carnell.

Pointing to the ASBFEO pamphlet, security firm MailGuard says the Ombudsman’s cybersecurity pamphlet makes key recommendations to business owners:

  •     Back up data regularly.
  •     Patch applications by installing security updates.
  •     Use complex passwords and two-step authentication.
  •     Limit access to administrator accounts and sensitive information.
  •     Communicate about cybersecurity with team members.
  •     Only allow applications you trust on your computers.
  •     Report any cybercrime incidents or attacks.
  •     Consult trusted advisors about cyber security.
  •     Don’t rely on one form of cyber security protection.

In the pamphlet, Ombudsman Carnell says that, "Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated and small businesses are particularly vulnerable. Cyber security needs to be taken seriously.”

“Many small businesses have successfully blended their physical and virtual shopfronts to establish sustainable operating models... Cyber criminals now are attacking small businesses as a result, very, very regularly.

“They know the big guys have really cool systems and they know the little guys haven't. Many chief executives are actively running the day-to-day business with an office structure around them. As a result, cyber protection is often forgotten.”

Carnell previously stated in 2017 that 30% of small businesses reported experiencing a cyber crime incident in the year to mid-2015, adding that “the true statistic is probably much higher because a lot of small businesses don't want to admit they've fallen victim to a cybercrime attack”.

"Many small businesses have successfully blended their physical and virtual shopfronts to establish sustainable operating models.

"It would be an incredible shame if small businesses shut themselves out of the online market because of fears about cyber security. There are risks attached to most activities... Taking sensible precautions broadens opportunities and heightens the rewards."

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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