Why small businesses can’t afford to ignore the risk of cybercrime

Cyber crime is on the rise, and it’s not just big businesses that are affected. Here’s what small businesses need to know about the recent surge in cyber attacks and how they can protect themselves.

Cybercrime rose 13% in Australia in FY21, with over 67,500 cybercrimes reported between July 2020 and June 2021, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC). That equates to one cybercrime being reported every eight minutes. In New Zealand, over 3100 cybercrimes were reported between January and June of 2021, a 42% increase on the prior corresponding period, CERT NZ found.

These figures are part of a global surge in cybercrime during the COVID-19 pandemic, which experts have attributed in large part to the shift to remote working. As employees have started accessing confidential information via unsecured networks, it has become vulnerable to hackers.

Recent months have seen several high-profile ransomware attacks, where major US corporations, including meat processors, fuel suppliers and software providers, have been unable to operate for days and even weeks on end. But if you think small businesses are less vulnerable to cyber attacks than big organisations with significant assets, think again.

The majority of small businesses have experienced a cyber attack

Globally, 66% of small businesses have experienced a cyber attack in the past 12 months, according to the Ponemon Institute. And yet, only 38% of NZ businesses believe they adequately invest in cyber security, and less than half have processes in place to prevent a cyber attack, according to CERT NZ. The cost of this lack of preparedness is significant.

Self-reported financial losses due to cybercrime totaled more than $33 billion in Australia in FY21, the ACSC found, and small businesses made a higher number of cybercrime reports than in the previous financial year. However, medium businesses bore the brunt of the costs. The average reported loss by medium businesses was over $33,400 in FY21, compared to just over $19,300 for large businesses and $8,900 for small businesses.

But it’s not just the financial cost of having to pay a ransom to regain access to your systems, or the downtime from disrupted operations, that you need to worry about. In some cases, you must report a data breach to your customers, since their personal and financial information could be affected, and this could have a serious impact on their satisfaction and loyalty.

How you can protect your small business

So what can you do to reduce your risk of being the victim of a cyber attack? Luckily, there are some fairly simple steps you can take, starting with ensuring all your devices and systems are up to date with the latest software. Turn on automatic system updates so you don’t have to think about it, and while you’re at it, make sure multi-factor authentication is the default setting and implement access control to restrict administrator privileges. This will make it harder for cyber criminals to gain access to your data.

If the worst does happen, and a hacker compromises your system, you can minimise the damage to your business by having a recent copy of all your business-critical information stored in a safe and secure offline location, so you’ll want to make sure you perform regular backups. Lastly, it’s a good idea to purchase ransomware protection to avoid having to pay a large sum of money if you do become the victim of an attack. You can even use hummpro to help you cover the cost.

Built for small businesses, hummpro is a buy now, pay later solution that makes it easy to manage your cashflow, so you can factor in critical expenses, such as ransomware protection. With access to up to $30,000 in finance, you can use hummpro like a credit card. All your purchases from a given month are bundled into a single balance, and you have at least 30 days to make the repayment. But unlike a credit card, you aren’t charged any interest.

It’s not just a smart way to manage your cashflow, but also helps you pay for tools to keep cyber criminals at bay.

Don’t wait for a cyber attack to think about purchasing ransomware protection for your business. Factor it into your cashflow forecast with hummpro.