Amidst concern over rising online threats, SMEs are taking action on cybersecurity

IT department, IT professional, information technology, layers

PayPal’s new research, the 2023 Online Security Research report, reveals that an overwhelming majority of Australian SMEs (72 per cent to be precise) are more concerned about threats to the safety and security of their online details and financial data.

This insight comes a year after a series of high-profile data breaches impacted 47 per cent of the population within the space of four months. As a result of these attacks, 76 per cent of those affected have said that the breaches caused harm.

The breaches have also impacted consumers. As a result, 74 per cent of them said they are more concerned about their online safety than they were a year ago. Moreover, 37 per cent have abandoned online purchases due to security concerns or because their preferred payment option was not available at checkout.

The top areas of increased concern for Australian small businesses revealed by the research are scams becoming more sophisticated (53 per cent), the safety and security of business data held by other organisations (43 per cent), and cyber criminals impersonating suppliers, vendors and service providers (41 per cent). Businesses also have heightened fears about their business bank account becoming compromised (41 per cent), the cost and complexity of staying ahead of cyber criminals (40 per cent), and credit card and customer fraud (40 per cent).

PayPal’s research highlights the fact, however, that SMEs are taking action to improve their cybersecurity, with 85 per cent having already taken at least one step to increase their digital security, including: backing up data and implementing a data recovery process (50 per cent); encouraging employees to treat calls, emails and texts with more suspicion (48 per cent); and enabling two-factor authentication or other controls for employee access to systems (38 per cent). However, only 34 per cent have enabled fraud protection for their eCommerce sites or have introduced or increased employee security training and just 32 per cent use encryption for important information.

“Cybersecurity is an essential investment no matter how small your business is,” Daniela Fernandez, Head of Information Security at PayPal, said. “The threat to businesses posed by scams, hackers and cybercriminals is likely to remain an unwelcome feature of the commercial landscape for the foreseeable future. And it’s not only big enterprises that are at risk. Small businesses are just as vulnerable, if not more so.

“While cybercriminals may not seek the same level of impact or notoriety by breaching small businesses, they are still targeting them for funds and data,” Fernandez added. “That’s why protecting yourself and your small business should be a top priority. Simple steps like applying regular software security patches and keeping your software up-to-date, using latest anti-virus software, using strong password, turning on multi-factor authentication, training your staff, and doing frequent back-ups can make your business a tougher target.”