It’s that time of year when savvy business owners are looking ahead, to identify the opportunities – and the challenges – of the next 12 months.
One key area of concern for 2023 is the increasing threat of cybercrime – especially for small businesses.
In recent years, cybercrime has increased at an alarming rate, with the perpetrators becoming even more sophisticated in their attacks. That means critical business assets – such as your bank accounts, email systems and devices – are at risk.
$300 million in losses
Targeting these assets allows cyber-criminals to hit businesses where it hurts most – money, data, and reputation.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) recognises that small businesses require specific advice to defend themselves against such threats – with attacks equating to around $300 million in losses.
In the 2020-2021 financial year, ACSC received 67,500 cybercrime reports – an increase of 13% on the previous year. That’s around one report every eight minutes!
One of the reasons given for the shocking increase is COVID. As lockdowns saw more and more Australians working remotely, online scams skyrocketed. Worryingly, 43% of cyber-attacks targeted SMBs.
The top industries affected by cybercrime include education, healthcare, government, communications, and software vendors – with smartphones the primary delivery method for attacks.
- Cybercrime costs the global economy arounds $445 billion yearly
- One in four Australians has been a victim of identity fraud
- Cybercriminals can penetrate 93% of company networks
One of the most notable cybercrimes of 2022 was the attack on Optus, which affected more than 2 million customers – with 9.8 million individual records exposed.
HOW SMALL BUSINESSES CAN PROTECT THEMSELVES
Imagine how your business would be affected if your customers’ personal details fell into the wrong hands! It doesn’t bear thinking about! So, here are some ways you can protect your assets.
Back up your data regularly
This will help you recover any information you lose if you experience a cyber incident. Back up your most important data regularly – it doesn’t cost much and is easy to do. Use multiple back-up methods if you can.
Secure your devices and network
Ensure your operating system and security software are regularly updated, as they may contain important security upgrades.
Install security software
Install security software on all your business devices. Make sure it includes anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam filters.
Set up a firewall
A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that sits between your computer and the internet and will help filter out threats. Remember to include all your portable business devices.
Turn on spam filters
Using spam filters will reduce the amount of spam and phishing emails that your business receives. These emails can be used to infect your computer with viruses or malware or steal your confidential information.
Encrypt important information
Turn on your network encryption and encrypt data when stored or sent online. This converts your data into a secret code before you send it over the internet, reducing the risk of theft, destruction, or tampering.
Replace passwords with passphrases. Passphrases are a collection of different words that are simple for humans to remember but difficult for machines to crack.
Create a cyber security policy
And train your staff to be safe online. They can be your first and last line of defence against cyber threats!
Consider cyber security insurance
Cyber liability insurance cover helps businesses with the cost of recovering from an attack. Like all insurance policies, it is important you understand what is covered.
Get cyber security advice
If you want to talk to someone about cyber security, contact ACSC’s 24/7 Cyber Security Hotline.
The hotline provides over the phone support to prepare for – and respond to – cyber incidents. Visit www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/contact#no-back or phone 1300 CYBER1 (1300 292 371)