More than half our small businesses unprepared for cyber attack

Cyber Monday is one of the busiest internet shopping days of the year and also a peak time for opportunistic hackers to strike. Research from Allianz Global Assistance (AGA) reveals that more than half (56 per cent) of Australian small businesses are not adequately protected should a cyber attack impact their business; despite it being ranked #3 on the list of key business risks, behind economic factors and cashflow.

The past year has seen an increase in local and global cyber attacks, with a staggering 300 percent increase in 2016 alone*.

Whilst there are number of Australian small businesses that have security measures in place to combat these attacks, a survey conducted by AGA revealed that only 20 per cent feel that their business is “very well” protected from potential harm; signaling a need for better cyber security protection and more education on what support is available in the event a small business falls victim to an attack.

An online global shopping phenomenon like Cyber Monday leaves online retailers open to be targeted, sometimes having devastating effects. Whilst online retainers run the gauntlet of becoming a cybercrime victim, the most common type of cyber attack that impacts small Australian businesses includes ransomware, spyware and Trojans – a virus or a worm that affects desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

The potential risks with these types of attacks include loss of data, compromised financial security and, in worst cases, identity theft. Whilst some small businesses may have some level of cover, it’s the 56 per cent of Australian small businesses that aren’t adequately equipped that are often powerless to respond in the event of an attack, lack the skills to address the problem and may be unaware of where to turn to for support.

To support small businesses in a time of cyber crisis, AGA has launched Cyber Assist, a suite of cyber protection services that provide 24/7 support and system recovery for victims. The service acts as a second line of defence against the five most common types of cyber-attacks when anti-virus protection software doesn’t hold as the first line of defence.

Brad Smith, Chief Sales Officer of Allianz Global Assistance, said, “It is alarming to see that cybercrime is increasing, yet organisations that regularly review and test IT systems is decreasing – 73 per cent in 2015 to 57 per cent in 2016.

“The need for a strong cyber security measure has never been greater. Our Cyber Assist product helps put the power back in small-business owner’s hands by providing them with quick response recovery.”

Sean Cunningham, from Uber Geeks, said, “In 2016-2017, over 47,000 cyber incidents took place in Australia*. A cyber-attack can often leave a victim feeling powerless. The Cyber Assist service gives small-business owners the peace of mind in knowing exactly where to turn to in the event of a cyber attack and helps to put the power back in business owner’s hands by knowing they have a quick response recovery. If the issue cannot be resolved off site, then one of our mobile technicians will respond in person. We encourage all businesses to ensure they have the most up-to-date security systems across their network.”

Symptoms of a cyber-attack can include:

  • contacts receiving emails that you didn’t send
  • high network activity when not in use
  • re-directed to unusual websites
  • unexpected pop-up windows
  • low on storage for no reason
  • computer fan running hard
  • home page changing
  • slow performance error messages.

To help prevent a cyber attack, small businesses should consider using high-quality anti-virus software, have healthy online hygiene (i.e. not clicking on links that could be encrypted), and always using back-up software.

*Perspectives on Cyber Risk, Minter Ellison, 2017

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