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Cybercrime Threats to Small Businesses and Prevention Strategies

Cybercrime is a growing threat to small businesses, with an incident occurring every six minutes according to the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD)​ (Accountants Daily)​. These attacks can be devastating, often resulting in significant financial losses. In the 2022-23 financial year, the average cost of cybercrime for small businesses increased to $46,000​ (Cyber.gov.au)​. To safeguard against these threats, it is crucial for business owners to implement effective cybersecurity measures. What are the common types of cyber threats a small business might face?

Common Cyber Threats

  1. Phishing Attacks: Fraudulent emails or messages designed to trick recipients into revealing sensitive information.
  2. Ransomware: Malware that encrypts a business’s data, demanding payment for its release.
  3. Data Breaches: Unauthorised access to confidential information, often resulting in financial and reputational damage.

There are a number of simple steps we can all take to help avoid such things from happening. We’ve listed four below.

Essential Cybersecurity Measures

Password Management

Keep your passwords secure, and adopt a good password generation strategy. Do not reuse the same password on multiple accounts and update your passwords regularly. That all sounds like more work and hard work, right? Wrong. There are some great tools to help. We know that sharing access to online services with team members and others is important and a password manager can help you do this quickly and securely. With these tools you or a team member can update the password and everyone who should get access even when someone makes changes. If someone in the team leaves you can remove their access. Simple. Tools we love include:

Bitwarden: We love Bitwarden. Not only can we share passwords securely with each other but we can also send secure notes to suppliers and others. Here are a few other password managers that are also great: 1Password; LastPass; NordPass

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Implementing MFA adds an extra layer of security, requiring users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a system.

Regular Software Updates

Keeping software up-to-date ensures that security patches are applied, protecting systems from known vulnerabilities.

Data Backup

Regularly backing up data ensures that businesses can quickly recover information in the event of a cyberattack. If you create all your business documents with either Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 then your documents will all be kept securely in their cloud and this provides an inherent backup strategy (one less thing to think about) with the benefit of being able to access anything from anywhere. You should still back up your personal work computer.

Employee Training

Educating employees about cybersecurity best practices helps prevent inadvertent breaches and equips them to recognise potential threats.

Cybersecurity Resources

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) offers a range of resources tailored for small businesses, including the Small Business Cyber Security Guide. This guide provides comprehensive advice on securing business systems and protecting against cyber threats.

Conclusion

Cybercrime poses a significant risk to small businesses, but by implementing robust cybersecurity measures and leveraging available resources, business owners can effectively safeguard their operations. Staying informed, proactive, and vigilant is key to preventing cyber incidents and ensuring business continuity. For more detailed advice, visit the ACSC’s dedicated page on Small Business Cyber Security.

By taking these steps, small businesses can build a resilient defence against cyber threats and continue to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

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