Small businesses at great risk of cyber security threats

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The Australian Government has announced its national cyber security policy, committing $230 million for measures including the establishment of Joint Cyber Threat Centres.

Responding to the announcement, the CEO of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), Andrew Johnson said, “Cyber security is perhaps the biggest threat to Australia fulling the opportunities of the digital age. We need the policies and infrastructure in place to engender confidence in online platforms. Without this confidence, we place economic growth and productivity at severe risk.”

The CEO of StartupAus, Alex McCauley said, “We are pleased to see a mature, comprehensive approach to an area that has a huge impact on Australia’s digital future. It’s crucial we get cyber security right if we want to transition into a technologically sophisticated economy and position Australia as a trusted place to do business.”

With more people running their businesses online to sell products and services, keep records and connect with customers, every small business is potentially at risk in the cyber space. Just last week more than 20 Australian small business websites were hacked by a cyber crime group called United Cyber Caliphate.

The Australian Government estimates that more than 400,000 small to medium sized businesses have experienced threats to their cyber security. The average cost of cyber attacks on these businesses was more than $270,000.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre Threat Report 2015 concludes that the number, type and sophistication of cyber security threats and attacks to Australians are increasing and will continue to do so. Ransonware, spear-phishing and targeted attacks are on the rise while standard ploys like persuading people to click on malware-laden email attachments are still common.

In November 2014, the Government first announced it would conduct a review in order to assess the what was needed in their new Cyber Security Strategy. The review team talked to around 200 large and small businesses across Australia and overseas to determine the cost of cyber attacks on the economy.

Chloe Potvin
Chloe Potvin is a contributing small business writer for Kochie's Business Builders.