Is the security message finally getting through to SMEs?

As more industries move online, there has been a common misconception among small-business owners that hackers are only interested in big businesses. This complacent attitude opens small businesses up to increased risk as they put cyber security on the back burner.

A survey from Symantec found that Australian small businesses are reporting cyber security breaches at nearly twice the rate of their US counterparts, however they are slow to embrace policies to counter this threat.

Due to their size, SMEs feel they are a low risk of being breached, making them a primary target. In light of some high-profile hacking cases, are small businesses finally getting serious on security?

Our internal data shows awareness is growing and pre-emptive action is being taken by SMEs. In 2016, sales of the Crazy Domains Site Protection product experienced a 135 per cent increase from 2015 and interestingly, August of 2016 proved to be the biggest ever month on record for the purchase of the product – the same month as the major Census breach.

Incidents like this are raising awareness and helping shift SME owner’s perceptions toward prioritising their online security.

A cyber breach can be extremely costly, particularly as more business resources are moved online. PwC estimates such a breach could cost the average SME owner more than $100,000. Stolen funds or proprietary information such as product designs, strategies or employee information is generally the first consequence to come to mind when talking about security breaches.

However, a security breach can often take businesses offline, resulting in a significant loss of revenue and customer trust. Many SMEs are beginning to understand the serious financial risks of being hacked.

SMEs are also beginning to recognise that protecting online information is not only vital for the security of sensitive information such as employee data and finances, it’s also important to protect private customer details.

Business owners are being encouraged to understand their corporate responsibility when it comes to customer data, in fact the UN general assembly is urging that cyber security be seen as a human right. It is clear we are at a turning point when it comes to cyber security, and SME owners are taking the steps to protect themselves and their customers.

In recent years, there has been an increase in high profile security breaches. We saw the major Census blunder, then the Red Cross were targeted by a personal data breach affecting more than half a million donors, and, finally, Yahoo admitted that over one billion users were affected by the 2013 attack to their network.

For the 2 million small to medium businesses in Australia, the message is clear: nobody is adverse to security breaches.

If 2016 was the year of hacking, 2017 is shaping up to be the year of prevention.

Gavin Gibson, Chief Operations Officer, Crazy Domains

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