Small businesses are easy targets for cyber-criminals: expert

Unlike large corporates, smaller businesses are easy targets for cyber-criminals because they tend to have less security, a South Africa-based expert said this week.

In addition to posing a major threat to the reputation of a business and, in turn consumer confidence, a cyber-attack can also cost a business millions of dollars to rectify, Jeremy Lang. Business Partner Limited regional general manager, said.

South Africa was ranked as the third most exposed country to cyber-attacks by a recent report published by the Cyber Intelligence Research Group.

“2017 has seen an upsurge in cyber-attacks – from ransomware to phishing – and it is imperative that small business owners realise that their businesses are just as much on the radar of a cybercriminal as larger enterprises,” Lang pointed out.

The 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study for South Africa shows that data breaches cost companies an average of R1 632 (about US$100) per compromised record, an increase from last year’s average per capita cost was R1 548 (about US$95).

As small business owners are already under significant pressure to stay financially afloat, Lang emphasised the importance of being adequately protected in this regard – and mentions a number of cost-effective ways to do so.

“It’s vital for small business owners to plan ahead, and when it comes to cyber-crime, it should not be considered as a ‘what-if’, but rather a ‘when’,” he said.

“If the budget does not allow for costly systems or IT consultations, there are many free tools online such as malware, spyware and firewall protection programmes.

“For example, most email programmes offer the option to install a two-step verification on the business’ emails which adds an additional layer of security. In order to sign in, a verification pin is then also sent to the user’s cellphone, decreasing the risk of it being hacked.”

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