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Posted By:  Ecommerce Exchange on 10/14/2017 in Security

Many Small Businesses Oblivious to Cyberattacks

Many Small Businesses Oblivious to Cyberattacks

More than half of small businesses have been the victims of a cyberattack over the past year, however most of these firms did not realize that they had been attacked, according to the outcome of Nationwide's third annual survey which was released this week.

The online survey was conducted by Edelman Intelligence in May 2017.

The results are from a sampling of 1,069 businesses with fewer than 299 employees. Initially, only 13 percent of the participating companies said they had been victims of a cyberattack. However, after they were shown a list of cyberattack types, ranging from phishing scams to trojan horses to ransomware, that figure rose to 58 percent.

"Cyberattacks are one of the greatest threats to the modern company," said Mark Berven, Nationwide's president of property and casualty. "Business owners are telling us that cybercriminals aren't just attacking large companies on Wall Street. They’re also targeting smaller companies on Main Street that often have fewer defense mechanisms in place, less available capital to re-invest in new systems and less name recognition to rebuild a damaged reputation."

The companies that are targeted often have scarce cyberdefense systems, less money to invest in threat protection, and less name recognition at risk from a breach.

The most common forms of attack, based on the survey, were computer viruses, cited by 36 percent of respondents. Next came phishing attacks, cited by 29 percent, and then trojan horses, cited by 13 percent.

common types of small business cyberattacks

Lack of preparedness is a substantial problem for the companies surveyed. Roughly 57 percent of the firms did not have dedicated employee or vendor monitoring for cyberattacks in place, and about 76 percent did not have a plan for dealing with such attacks. Fifty-seven percent did not have a plan for protecting employee data, and 54 percent lacked a plan for protecting customer data.

Recovery from cyberattacks in many cases was slow and expensive. About 20 percent of cyberattack victims spent $50,000 and took more than six months to recover, while 7 percent spent more than $100,000 to address the attacks, and 5 percent took more than a year to recover.

According to Nationwide, although the vast majority of business owners say it's important to establish cybersecurity best practices recommended by the U.S. Small Business Administration, fewer report actually following these best practices that every business owner should assess:

  • Protect against viruses, spyware and other malicious code: 85 percent versus 65 percent
  • Secure your networks: 85 percent versus 58 percent
  • Make backup copies of important business data and information: 85 percent versus 59 percent
  • Establish security practices and policies to protect sensitive information: 83 percent versus 50 percent
  • Control physical access to computers and network components: 81 percent versus 60 percent
  • Require employees to use strong passwords and to change them often: 80 percent versus 52 percent
  • Educate employees about cyber threats and hold them accountable: 76 percent versus 42 percent
  • Protect all pages on public-facing websites, not just the checkout and sign-up pages: 74 percent versus 42 percent
  • Employ best practices on payment cards: 73 percent versus 47 percent
  • Create a mobile device action plan: 64 percent versus 26 percent

Security experts offer analysis about the vulnerabilities of small businesses and the strategies they should employ to guard against cyberattacks, in this article on the E-Commerce Times.

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