Don’t Be Fooled: Why Small Businesses Are Targets of Cyber Attacks

Most Small Businesses Are Unprepared, According to Survey

Half of small business owners have experienced malware, phishing, Trojans, hacking, and unauthorized access to customer data, according to a recent survey by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

Nearly 80 percent of small-business owners don’t have a cyberattack response plan, even though more than half (54%) were victim to at least one type of cyberattack over the past year, according to Nationwide’s Small Business Indicator survey.

“Cyber criminals are getting more sophisticated and realizing that small businesses are easy targets,” said Mark Berven, president of Nationwide Property & Casualty.

About 60% of those who did experience a cyberattack said it took longer than a month to recover. By contrast, of those who have not encountered a cyberattack, more than half (57%) think their company could recover within a month, according to the survey.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide from June 10-23 2016, among 502 US small-business owners with fewer than 300 employees.

“Small businesses are not prepared for cyber events because pretty much all they are seeing in headlines are large corporations,” says Karen Johnston, casualty technical consultant for commercial staff underwriting at Nationwide.

“That gives them a false sense of security because they think that cybercriminals only attack large corporations. SMBs might think they don’t have information cybercriminals would want, but that is far from the truth,” she notes.

“Small business owners accept credit card payments, collect personal information from employees and customers, have websites, and do online banking. All of these activities create opportunities for cyber criminals to obtain the information they are looking for,” Johnston says.

“The reality is small businesses have fewer resources to invest in proper data protection and security controls; that definitely makes them an attractive target than larger corporations,” Johnston says.

According to the Nationwide survey, 45% of small-business owners who do not have a cyberattack response plan in place said they don’t feel their company will be affected by a cyberattack (compared to 40% last year).

At the same time, the majority of respondents (68%) are at least somewhat concerned about a potential cyberattack affecting their business. Fifty-four percent of the businesses were victim to at least one type of the following attacks:

  • Computer virus (37%)
  • Phishing (20%)
  • Trojan horse (15%)
  • Hacking (11%)
  • Unauthorized access to customer information (7%)
  • Unauthorized access to company information (7%)
  • Issues due to unpatched software (6%)
  • Data breach (6%)
  • Ransomware (4%)

Nationwide recommends that small-business owners protect their organizations by incorporating the following procedures:

  1. Guard your physical perimeter to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive data and your company’s computer network;
  2. Educate your employees about cyber awareness;
  3. Activate your firewall;
  4. Install and regularly update antivirus, malware and spyware software;
  5. Use strong passwords of 8-10 characters that include letters, numbers, and special characters and update them regularly;
  6. Secure your Wi-Fi networks;
  7. Set social media profiles to private and check your settings;
  8. Encrypt your sensitive data, make a back-up and store it in a fire-proof safe off-site;
  9. Carefully select online computing services;
  10. Acquire cyber insurance to cover losses in the event of fraud or breaches.

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Bill Ferguson

Bill Ferguson, a New Jersey-based communications professional with over 20 years of corporate communications and integrated marketing experience.

Bill Ferguson

Bill Ferguson, a New Jersey-based communications professional with over 20 years of corporate communications and integrated marketing experience.

One thought on “Don’t Be Fooled: Why Small Businesses Are Targets of Cyber Attacks

  • October 26, 2018 at 2:44 am
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    Hello. splendid job. I did not anticipate this. This is a great story. Thanks!

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