Small businesses ‘failing to recognise’ cyber threats

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85 per cent of small businesses believe a data breach is unlikely

Despite a number of high profile data breaches in the news recently – perhaps most notably among them the exposure of LinkedIn passwords and the Global Payments fiasco involving people’s credit card details – it appears that smaller companies are still taking the threat posed by cyber attacks for granted.

That’s according to a survey conducted by financial services group The Hartford, which found that 85 per cent of small businesses believe a data breach is unlikely, and that many are not taking adequate steps to protect the records of their staff and customers as a result.

Lynn LaGram, assistant vice president of small commercial underwriting at The Hartford, said: "Most of the business owners surveyed believe they are not at risk, when in fact smaller businesses are increasingly being targeted.

"As cyber criminals set their sights on smaller firms, it is important for business owners to take proactive measures to protect data and minimise the likelihood of a breach."

With the results of the study finding that less than half (48 per cent) of respondents have implemented measures to lock and secure sensitive customer, patient or employee details, it seems that many other small organisations are not placing sufficient emphasis on the need for effective data protection practices.

What’s more, given that only 53 per cent revealed that they properly and securely dispose of such information, it could be that secure online document storage strategies need to be adopted as a means to avoid the risk of confidential records falling into the wrong hands.

Yet despite the failure of many small businesses to ensure that they have a range of effective methods in place to defend against the exposure of their data, the survey found that there is a higher awareness of the reputational risks associated with losing sensitive details – 61 per cent believed a breach could violate trust and damage their relationship with customers.

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