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Keeping Computer and Network Safe for SMEs

We’ve all heard of the most recent cyber attacks; Ashley Madison, David Jones and K-mart to name a few. What many people haven’t heard is that in 2014, 60% of targeted attacks hit small and medium businesses1.

So why don’t we hear about the smaller scale incidents? In Australia, it’s not mandatory to report cyber attacks. To avoid reputational tarnish, customer dissatisfaction and the chance of repeat attack, it’s no surprise that most businesses choose to stay quiet.

Not only does being a small or medium business make you a greater target, the consequence is also greater than that of a large enterprise. According to research from the Ponemon Institute2, the cost of a cyber attack costs SMEs $755 per capita, more than double the $282 per capita that larger organisations get struck with. And according to a different study3, 60% of small organisations go out of business within 6 months of a data breach.

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A plan, some understanding and a few resources can keep the bad guys away…

Every business, whether large or small, needs to have a customer-facing website these days, and in the past twelve months Australians spent $17.5 billion on online retail sales. In fact, according to Avast Software, online shopping is Australia’s number one online activity, social media, banking and emailing…before we get down to adult content, illegal torrent sites and checking the weather forecasts, which are also in the top ten.

While this level of online activity is great for commerce in Australia, it also brings with it a host of problems – potentially very damaging ones. Companies and web developers know that a website needs security, but many business owners do not understand the depth of online threats that exist, and the ever-evolving complexity of attacks.

Regardless of whether a website sells directly to the public, or simply exists as a tool to host marketing information and contact details, an attack can be disastrous to business credibility and continuity. Imagine a client happily selling from the web one minute, then having to contact an entire customer base and explain that their security has been compromised. Payment details may have fallen into the hands of criminals, a foreign entity may be blackmailing the company or perhaps there has been a malicious attack and sales can’t continue as the online inventory is down.

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