This is worrisome: more than three-quarters of small businesses surveyed by Symantec think they are safe from cybersecurity threats, yet 83 percent have no formal cybersecurity plan.
These findings are from a new survey released today of 1,015 U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Symantec. (The full survey is available at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/resources/)
The survey findings reveal some disparities such as the need for establishing Internet security policies and practices, handling and responding to data breaches, and providing consistent IT/security management at their businesses. Although SMBs increasingly rely on the Internet for daily operations, they are not taking the necessary measures to keep their businesses safe and secure:
- A Majority of SMBs Believe Security Is Critical to Their Success and Brand: Seventy-three percent of SMBs say a safe and trusted Internet is critical to their success, and 77 percent say a strong cybersecurity and online safety posture is good for their company’s brand.
- SMBs Unprepared to Handle Data Breach Losses: Nearly six out of 10 (59 percent) SMBs do not have a contingency plan outlining procedures for responding and reporting data breach losses.
- Two-thirds of SMBs Aren’t Concerned About Cyber Threats: Sixty-six percent of SMBs are not concerned about cyber threats – either external or internal. External threats include a hacker or cyber-criminal stealing data while internal threats include an employee, ex-employee, or contractor/consultant stealing data.
“It’s terrifying that the majority of U.S. small businesses believe their information is protected, yet so many do not have the required policies or protection in place to remain safe,” said Brian Burch , vice president of Americas Marketing for SMB, at Symantec. “Almost 40 percent of the over 1 billion cyberattacks Symantec prevented in the first three months of 2012 targeted companies with less than 500 employees. And for the small, poorly protected companies that suffer an attack, it’s often fatal to their business.”
Michael Kaiser , executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance warns, ”A data breach or hacking incident can really harm SMBs and unfortunately lead to a lack of trust from consumers, partners and suppliers. Small businesses must make plans to protect their businesses from cyber threats and help employees stay safe online.”
Additional survey findings revealed the disparities between online safety perceptions and actual practices, which include:
- Employee Internet Security Policies, Procedures Lacking for SMBs: Eighty-seven percent of SMBs do not have a formal written Internet security policy for employees, while 69 percent do not even have an informal Internet security policy. While social media is an increasingly popular vector for phishing attacks, 70 percent of SMBs do not have policies for employee social media use.
- SMBs Satisfied with their Online Safety Posture Despite Lack of Policies/Plans: Eighty-six percent of SMBs say they are satisfied with the amount of security they provide to protect customer or employee data. Additionally, 83 percent strongly or somewhat agree that they are doing enough or making enough investments to protect customer data. Yet, Visa Inc. reports small businesses represent more than 90 percent of the payment data breaches reported to the company.
On a positive note, companies born of the recession are leading by example. Companies born since 2008 are almost 20 percent more likely than older small businesses to have a written plan in place for keeping their business secure from cyber threats.
- Many small businesses fail to take even fundamental cyber security precautions
- Eight steps to keep small businesses safe online
- Most Americans “cloudy” about where their data is stored
- “Cyber apathy” costly to small businesses
- Are your passwords secure? Free service rates your online security
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