17 August 2018

Minister calls for SME action on cyber security

Angus Taylor, Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security, has called on SMEs to do more to protect their businesses online as attacks continue to ramp up.

Speaking to the AFR, Taylor said that SMEs were the target in 43% of the 48,000 cyber attacks reported last year, highlighting the need for SMEs to take their cyber security seriously.

"As governments, utilities and corporations harden their cyber security, the criminals are seeing SMEs as vulnerable targets," Taylor said.

"At a time when small business owners are becoming more reliant on digital applications for things like accounting and banking, many of them are running outdated and unpatched software and many of them have outdated views of the online world. One report found that 87 per cent of SME business owners thought an anti-virus application would protect them from a cyber attack."

Brett Parnell, Account Manager – Professional and Financial Risks at Gallagher, said that all businesses need to have a better understanding of security as attacks mount and regulation changes.

“As legislation at home and abroad continues to develop, it is key that all businesses understand the cyber exposures they face and how best to mitigate against the threat of breaches that could be costly from both a financial and reputational perspective,” Parnell said.

“Happily, there are signs that message is starting to sink in at boardroom level in Australia.”

Earlier this week, The Sydney Morning Herald reported one case which saw a small business scammed out of $10,000 as hackers posed as suppliers in an email scam.

As the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) revealed that it has received 242 notifications under the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme in the latest quarter, SMEs should remain vigilant as cyber attacks are not just a concern for larger companies.

Small businesses should ensure that their security measures are up to date, and can also look to cyber insurance as a way to protect against losses related to a cyber incident.

“Conversations around cyber insurance have picked up markedly in the last 12 months following new legislation and a series of major global ransomware attacks in 2017,” Parnell continued.

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