Understanding Cyber Security Basics for Small Businesses

Small businesses face unique cyber security challenges. Limited resources and the absence of a dedicated IT team can make these companies easy targets for cyber criminals.

However, with a proactive approach to cyber security, you can significantly enhance your business’s defense against cyber threats. This guide aims to simplify cyber security for small business owners, highlighting common threats and practical steps to boost your cyber defense.

Why is cyber security important for small business?

Cyber security helps minimise the risk of cyber attacks and incidents for businesses. Research shows that annually, 61% of small businesses are the target of a cyber attack and, in 2022, 22% of Australian businesses suffered from an attack.

These incidents can have major impacts on small business such as:

  1. Financial burden: The average cost of a cyber attack on a small and medium businesses in Australia is between $46,000 to $97,200. This includes the cost of ransom and recovery costs.
  2. Operational burden: during and after an incident, businesses will face downtime whilst the incident is delt with. The average number of non-operational days after an attack is 23-51 days.
  3. Reputation tarnish: in a survey of small businesses that had experienced a cyber attack, 89% said the attack had an impact on their reputation.

Because of these factors, 60% of small businesses that experience an attack cease operations within six months.

This is why the NSEA is dedicated to supporting small businesses in Australia protect themselves from cyber incidents.

Top cyber security threats for small business owners

“Whilst there are many complex scams out there, the same ‘standard’ threats and errors continue to be the main cause of cyber security incidents for small businesses.”

Markus Hugenschmidt, CEO Jam Cyber

Jam Cyber has identified the top five threats for small businesses in Australia:

  • Phishing: This tactic involves deceptive attempts to acquire sensitive information such as passwords or financial details by pretending to be a legitimate entity in digital communications. Scammers will use email or sms to gather information. It’s important to carefully review any communication requesting personal or business information and verify its authenticity.
  • Ransomware: A type of malicious software designed to block access to your system or files, demanding a ransom for their release. Such attacks can severely interrupt your business operations and lead to significant data loss. Ransomware can be downloaded onto your network via clicking on unsafe links and/or attachments.
  • Data Breaches: Occur when unauthorised individuals gain access to your business data. Such incidents can have serious consequences, including financial losses, erosion of customer trust, and legal repercussions. This happens when hackers steal password credentials and/or bypass security measures to gain access to your database.
  • Human Error: One of the most significant yet overlooked vulnerabilities in cyber security is human error. This can range from simple mistakes like misplacing devices or sending information to the wrong recipient, to more complex issues such as failing to follow security protocols. Regular training and awareness can mitigate these risks.
  • Invoice Fraud: This involves the interception or falsification of invoices by cyber criminals with the aim of diverting payments to fraudulent accounts. Small businesses must be vigilant in verifying the authenticity of invoices, especially those that request changes to bank details or payment methods.


Simple cyber security measures your business can do today

  • Sign up for FREE Cyber Security: with NSEA’s partner Jam Cyber, NSEA participants can sign up for a free cyber security program including training, policies, and email reviews. Find out more here: https://jamcyber.com/nsea/
  • Strong Password Practices: Use complex passwords and consider a password manager for secure storage. Unique passwords for different accounts can prevent a single breach from compromising all your digital assets. You can also use a Password Manager system to enhance your security further.
  • Next Generation Antivirus: Next-generation antivirus provides better security for small businesses by using new technology to quickly spot and stop advanced threats, making it more effective than traditional antivirus.
  • Stay Updated: Regularly update your software and systems. Updates often contain security enhancements that protect against newly discovered vulnerabilities.
  • Continuous Education: Keeping yourself informed about cyber security risks and best practices is your first line of defense. Awareness can prevent common mistakes that lead to security breaches.


The Role of Cyber Security Training

With 95% of cyber attacks being caused by human error, cyber training is vital for anyone working in a business capacity. Investing time in cyber security training can equip you with the knowledge to identify risks and implement effective security measures.

Creating a routine of security-conscious practices is also beneficial. This might include regular reviews of your security measures, staying informed about the latest cyber threats, and understanding the basics of digital hygiene.

Where to from here?

For small, owner-operated businesses, preparing for a cyber attack is a necessary aspect of doing business in the digital world. By setting up some cybersmart systems, implementing strong password management and educating yourself about cyber risks, you can create the first line of defence against cyber threats.

With the right knowledge and tools, you can navigate the digital landscape confidently and securely, keeping your business resilient in the face of cyber challenges.

If you’re interested to learn more about cyber security for your business, visit: https://jamcyber.com/nsea/


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