Cyber crime costs the Australian economy roughly $1 billion a year, as recently noted by Dan Tehan MP, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, for Cyber Security. There are many tools, applications and software solutions on the market; which are easily accessible for small businesses. However, our research has found that a lack of dedicated IT resources within SMEs is creating barriers to stronger cyber defenses that will allow SME teams to stop cyber attacks.
With this in mind, here are three simple pieces of advice to help SME owners tackle complex challenges with cyber security:
1. Set security metrics
Creating a simple set of top-level security metrics and understanding what to measure (and how to measure it) can help small-businesses owners understand and improve security efficiency for their employees and organisation.
For example, have you installed mainstream security tools like firewalls or antivirus protection? These are easy measures to take to safeguard your business against the most basic of data security attacks by monitoring traffic to or from your network and protecting against existing and emerging viruses and malware.
Do you regularly test the strength of internal business passwords? This is another simple metric, which can be used to identify weak spots within an organisation. An alarming number of employees use default passwords or the same password for multiple accounts, with personal details often included in these passwords. By exposing these areas of vulnerability, operators can filter out bad passwords and make them harder to breach.
2. Educate your employees
Many SME owners feel that they lack IT resources and expertise within their business, with nearly a third (31 per cent) operating their business without any IT resource and over two thirds (70 per cent) wanting more expertise brought into their business.**
For businesses that have limited resources, creating security awareness among existing employees and ensuring they are following the correct security procedures is crucial. Employees are the first line of defence against attacks or an open door for criminals and can be valuable “watch dogs” to help stop cyber attacks, when trained and provided with the right tools.
By arming employees with fundamental knowledge about cyber safety, SME owners can help to prevent security incidents before they occur and impact operations.
3. Talk to the experts
You’re not alone if you feel you don’t have the skills to tackle the threat of cybersecurity. In fact, 46 per cent of organisations claim that they have a problematic shortage of skills in this area.***
When you add collaboration, networking, infrastructure and more to the list of things that SME owners have to consider, on top of actually running a profitable business, it’s easy to understand why things get moved onto next week’s to-do list.
For SMEs, one of the simplest ways to approach it head on is to discuss your business technology needs with the experts so they can implement a cost-effective package of services and tools that are tailored for your business needs – and that not only protect you but also allow you to grow and improve your profitability.
**Research conducted by Cisco, the world leader in IT, based on a study of 500 SME owners and operators in Australia 2017.
*** ESG’s 2016 IT spending intentions survey
Anthony Stitt, General Manager of Security, Cisco ANZ