20th May, 2014

How cyber risks are threatening your SME

While media coverage of cyber attacks has focussed on large companies with a significant online presence, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often fall victims to cyber threats.

SMEs are often easier targets for cyber criminals as breaches don’t attract the same levels of coverage that accompany cyber attacks on larger firms, according to a report by the IBM for Midsize Business programme.

The report also pointed to the limited IT capacities of SMEs as a contributing factor for the increasing number of cyber attacks targeting them.

While cyber attacks have triggered high-profile resignations from overseas firms, small businesses are often harder hit by these events. Solace Insurance, an American insurer, found that almost 60 per cent of small businesses hit by cyber criminals closed within six months of the attack.

Clearly, the loss of information, technical capabilities and reputation can irreversibly damage small and medium businesses.

So how can your business prepare for the worst?

Ensuring that your business has security checks in place for any technology provided to employees. Many Australians are unaware of the risks posed by mobile phones and public Wi​-Fi spots, both of which are easy prey for hackers. If mobiles and laptops contain valuable information, or are being used to access sensitive information online, then your business is at risk.

Educating your employees is also a good tactic. Ensure that every worker understands the risks posed by cyber attacks and is aware of company policies which minimise that damage. Employees with access to sensitive information should be a priority as they pose the greatest risk to your company’s security.

Backing up information to a cloud-based storage service will help boost your company’s security. By storing vital information securely online, your business will be able to recover from the loss of data stored on individual devices.

Finally, businesses should review their insurance cover to see whether it covers cyber attacks. Given how high the risks are to small businesses, it is more important than ever to ensure that you are covered with cyber protection insurance in the event of a major data breach.

Author: Murray Bruce