Lightbulb moment? CERT NZ survey finds small businesses switching on to cyber security

Lightbulb moment? CERT NZ survey finds small businesses switching on to cyber security

For many small businesses, bolstering cyber security is still not a priority.

Rob Pope (Cert NZ)

Rob Pope (Cert NZ)

Credit: Supplied

Three in five small businesses believe they should be doing more to keep secure online, according to a survey by government cyber agency CERT NZ.

While the majority of small businesses with an online presence understood the importance of protecting their websites, some small businesses were not taking action.

Further, of that three in five, only 18 per cent strongly agreed they needed to do more while 40 per cent agreed "slightly".

Most concerning, only 45 per cent had processes in place to prevent a cyber attack.

Fifty-four per cent of those surveyed said their organisation was concerned about cyber security, and 46 per cent were trying to learn more about keeping their online business safe.

However, only 38 per cent believed their business adequately invested in cyber security, and just 34 per cent believed their business had put a lot of thought and planning into being cyber secure. 

“Cyber security is a hot topic following a number of high profile attacks hitting the headlines recently, and they demonstrate no one is immune from being targeted,” said Rob Pope, director of CERT NZ.

“The silver lining is that these events have put online security at the front of businesses’ minds, and are generating more open conversations."

It was encouraging that businesses were gaining greater awareness of the mitigations they needed to put in place to minimise cyber security threats, Pope said.

CERT NZ saw a 65 per cent increase in the number of cyber security reports made by individuals, small businesses and large organisations in 2020 compared to 2019.

“However, our research indicates businesses don’t know where to begin boosting their cyber resilience," Pope said. 

"Time and money may be a barrier, but prevention is the best and least costly form of defence.”

A large percentage of incidents reported to CERT NZ could have been prevented simply with a long strong password and the use of two-factor authentication, he said.

CERT NZ has created a list of the minimum ten critical cyber security controls for businesses based on cyber related events over the previous 12 months.

The online survey was conducted in two tranches, the first between 3 July to 12 July 2020, and the second from 30 November to 13 December 2020, amongst 508 businesses with less than 20 employees. 

It included 274 businesses with zero to 5 employees and 234 businesses with six to 19 employees.

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