41 percent of small businesses have been the victim of cybercrime, costing each small businesses £3942 ($AU6064), says the UK Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in a survey released yesterday.
Virus infections were most commonly cited (20 percent), with hacking or electronic intrusion (8 percent) and system security breaches (5 percent).
Cybercrime, said Mike Cherry, FSB’s National Policy Chairman, “poses a real and growing threat for small firms.”
The FSB released the survey as part of efforts to win Government support for small businesses around cyber security, but also to encourage small businesses to take action, with 20 percent of those surveyed admitting to doing nothing at all to combat cybercrime.
“Many businesses will not embrace new technology as they fear the repercussions and do not believe they will get adequate protection from crime,” says Mike Cherry, National Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses.
The impact of cybercrime on small businesses, the demands and costs of security, while also continuing to developing their online business is becoming a barrier for many smaller organisations in Australia too agrees Peter Lee, CEO of the Internet Industry Association in Australia.
"The issues highlighted in the UK are not surprising, in terms of small business' fear of cyber-attacks and the ultimate cost to the economy,” says Lee.
"Small business in Australia makes up for more than 99 percent of all businesses, yet there's reluctance from them to fully embrace the advantages of the Internet, with less than 50 percent online," says Lee.
Extrapolating the survey’s findings to the whole of the UK, roughly 4.7 million small businesses, claim the FSB, lost a whopping £800 million last year.
Many here feel the Australian experience largely reflects the UK, and like the UK, there could be greater collaboration between government and industry to support local businesses taking the plunge.
Matt Tett, Managing Director of Enex TestLab, a small business which operates in both regions, told CSO, “Australia’s 2.1 million small businesses have the same challenges as the UK. More public, private and academic collaborative partnerships are required to combat the threat to these vulnerable organisations. Businesses are often dealing with day-to-day operations and resources, so are unaware or unable to perform adequate security evaluation when implementing a new system or purchasing new technology.”
“Governments need to work more closely with small business,” adds Lee. “We need more collaboration with the Internet security sector to better educate businesses about their IT and online security. They need to feel a reasonable degree of comfort that they are doing the right things to protect their business and their customers.”
Introducing legislation that requires businesses to report security breaches is one such step that Lee feels could be intimidating to small business. “It will only act as a further deterrent for small business if they are not provided with the tools and education they need to prevent such breeches in the first place,” he says.
“We need to deliver a consistent effort across all levels of business and government instead of siloing our efforts,” concludes Tett.
“Critical national infrastructure is fighting cybercrime on an important level, but other levels of industry, including small business are equally important to the Australian economy.”