When one in five small to medium businesses (SMBs) report that they have not heard of the Australian Notifiable Data Breach Scheme – we are all in trouble.
HP has released its latest HP Australia IT Security Study; a survey exploring the IT security attitudes and behaviours of Australian small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) and the second of its kind undertaken by HP Australia this year. The study has revealed that 1 in 5 hadn’t heard of Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme.Key findings
* 49% of Australian small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) claim access to customers’ personal information is essential to their day-to-day business operations
* 60% said it helped them to deliver more personalised customer services and ultimately grow their business
* 46% said their customers are opting out of data collection and sharing
* 59% either have not or are not sure if they have completed an IT security risk assessment
* Australian SMBs still hold a prevailing view that upgrading security software alone is enough, with more SMBs upgrading software (38%) than implementing new security policies (31%), undertaking staff training on security (30%) or investing in better endpoint device security (26%)
“The past year has seen a number of high profile data breaches, which are often profiling the larger organisations,” said Jamie Wilson, Founder of Your Digital File and Cryptoloc Technology. “However, small and medium businesses are often the largest vulnerability to larger organisations. They are increasingly the best target for cyber crimes because they do not have the budgets and resources to build adequate cyber security.”
Despite these growing data privacy concerns, many Australian SMBs remain unaware of the potential costs involved and the steps they need to take to protect their customers’ information.
The HP Australia IT Security Study 2018 found that 42% of Australian SMBs surveyed had not completed an IT risk assessment and a further 17% weren’t sure if they had or had not completed an assessment. Of these, over one-in-three cited cost and a lack of knowledge and skills as the greatest barriers to completion.
Of great concern, just 39% of SMBs have a dedicated IT security specialist protecting their infrastructure and their customers from a data breach. In over a quarter of cases, business owners themselves are responsible for IT security.
“The majority of business owners we talk to understand that a data breach has the potential to cost them customers, revenue and their reputation. But they are naturally laser-focused on growing their business and doing what they do best, rather than IT security, so need to look to technology partners to help them navigate these new data privacy imperatives,” Jamie added.
Australian SMB preparedness for new data privacy regulations
The HP Australia IT Security Study 2018 found, half a year on from the introduction of Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme (February 2018), many Australian SMBs are still not adequately prepared. The majority have also not effectively responded to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018.
The study unveiled that close to 1 in 5 (19%) of Australian SMBs had not heard of the NDB scheme, despite having over 18 months to comply, and 1 in 4 (25%) had not heard of the GDPR. What’s more, over half (51%) of SMBs still did not have policies in place to adequately protect their businesses from a data breach in light of these new laws.
“There is a misconception among many SMBs that the NDB does not apply to them. In reality, the threshold is much lower than the $3 million in annual turnover that is often referenced. For example, if you hold tax file numbers (and that TFN is involved in a data breach) or you hold health information and provide a health service, such as GPs, pharmacies and even child care centres, your business would also fall under the scheme,” said Jamie.
Preventative cyber security measures
Underscoring this lack of security knowledge and skills is the prevailing view among Australian SMBs that simply upgrading their security software is enough to prevent a cyber-attack. HP has found that more SMBs are upgrading their software to prevent against breaches (38%) than they are implementing new security policies (31%), undertaking staff training on security (30%) or investing in better endpoint device security (26%).
Endpoint devices, such as PCs and printers, have the potential to be the weakest point of any network if not secured properly. With employees increasingly bringing their personal devices into the office and working remotely, these endpoints are multiplying. This means the doors for hackers into a business are multiplying too. The challenge is not insurmountable, but it does require a rethink of how SMBs approach IT security.
Australian SMBs can’t be expected to face this challenge on their own. Your Digital File is a platform where businesses can SECURELY store and share information that is critical to business, employees and clients. Your Digital File is an easy to use platform that secures files using encryption in a way that is easy for the user.
Resources from the The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) are numerous and provide advice for small businesses. OAIC is the independent government agency tasked with overseeing Australia’s new data breach disclosure laws.
The Australian Government also offers a wealth of information for SMBs wanting to take manageable steps towards bettering their IT security posture. For example, the Stay Smart Online Small Business Guide and the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s Cyber Security Best Practice Guide were both released in the past year and have been specifically designed to help Australian SMBs self-assess.
Action: Take smart steps to being cyber ready. Start your own free Your Digital File Account. Use Your Digital File – a document encryption platform to store private, confidential and business critical documents for you, your clients, your employee and your business. Share documents with third parties and internal users only using only Your Digital File.