Australian small businesses cutting security spend


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 07 November, 2023

Australian small businesses cutting security spend

An estimated 309,000 Australian small businesses have been targeted by cyber attacks in the past two years, new research commissioned by Mastercard suggests.

But the survey of small business leaders found that despite the prevalence of cybercrime attacks increasing in the past year, 31% of respondents report having been forced to make cuts to their cybersecurity budgets due to rising cost pressures.

Meanwhile, although over half (52%) of Australian small business leaders report being concerned about the risk of attacks, the same proportion also believe it is too costly for them to invest in cybersecurity.

Instead, small businesses are prioritising investments in customer acquisition (62%), client relationships (60%) and growth (54%) before cybersecurity (22%), the study found.

Primary barriers to small businesses exploring their cybersecurity options include cost (47%), time (31%) and a lack of knowledge about the solutions available (30%) and the threats present (24%).

Mastercard SVP for Cyber and Intelligence Solutions and Digital Identity for Australasia Malika Sathi said the findings show that small businesses are in the crosshairs of attackers. “Small businesses are the backbone of communities and make economies stronger,” he said.

“As data breaches and cybercrime pose real financial and reputational risks, it’s more important than ever for small business owners to educate themselves on cybersecurity. While the research suggests the large majority (67%) are taking some kind of action to protect their businesses, tackling the issue can often feel a little like trying to boil the ocean.”

To help small businesses address the growing cyber threat, Mastercard has teamed up with Jackson Henry, a 17-year-old ethical hacker who rose to fame in 2021 by discovering a critical vulnerability in the UN’s IT systems, to educate small businesses on common cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

The company has launched a 10-part video series on its social channels and YouTube aiming to empower small business owners to take action when it comes to cybersecurity. The series covers topics including the importance of using strong, unique passwords, implementing multifactor authentication and educating and training employees to recognise and respond to cyber threats.

Image: iStock.com/PRImageFactory

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