It seems that every other day a well-known business, such as Yahoo and Sony, are being hacked and having valuable data stolen and leaked. Small businesses are no exception as vulnerabilities exist for all businesses with an online presence.

Thinking of starting or expanding your business’s online presence? Sign up with LawPath today and have access to documents such as a privacy policy and website terms and conditions that will help safeguard your online assets, user data and intellectual property.

Government Initiative

In the past week, the Federal Government has committed to providing $15 million in funding to the Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (CREST), a not-for-profit company attempting to combat this increasing cyber risk by establishing a program that will help business owners identify cyber security risks and implement protection. The Federal Government is aiming to have this program running later in the year or in early 2018. The money will be used to distribute grants of $2100 to business owners to bolster their online security.

These initiatives are a response to a range of high-profile cyber attacks including the WannaCry ransomware attack.This attack affected over 250,000 computers in at least 150 countries. The impact of these cyber attacks cannot be underestimated, particularly for small business owners.

According to Symantec, in their 2017 Internet Security Threat Report 43% of all cyber attacks target small business. On average, Australian businesses $10,000 from online scams reported by ACCC Scamwatch, with over 6000 businesses claiming to be victims of online hacking in 2016. This highlights the growing concern and risks that small business owners face in an ever increasing digital world.

Common scams targeting small business

Any business that operates online must be aware of the main forms of hacking and scams that can occur to their digital data, including;

1. Ransomware

Occurs where individuals data is stolen and encrypted, this renders your data inaccessible and held for ransom unless payment is made to the criminal. The WannaCry attack is a recent example of this type of attack.

2. Investment scam

A broad category of scams that involves scammers promoting fraudulent business opportunities in an attempt to drain the unsuspecting company of their funds.

3.Business email compromise scam

The aim of this scam is to obtain a business’ email and then will attempt to contact the business’ clients and advise them that the company’s payment system has changed.

Steps to minimise risk when operating online

However, there are steps that all businesses should undertake to try and minimise the risk of falling victim to hacking. Close attention should be paid to any new requests for payment and have a clearly defined process for verifying and paying accounts and invoices.

Regularly backing up computer data on a separate hard drive so it can be easily re-installed if the computer is infected by malware or ransomware is a practice that should be adopted to minimise the consequences of falling victim to cyber crime.Finally, ensuring that computers have a firewall and up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software help in reducing the chances of being targeted.

By regularly conducting these simple steps, the risk of falling victim to cyber crime will be minimised.

Let us know your thoughts on the Federal Government’s funding to combat cyber crime by tagging us #lawpath or @lawpath.

Daniel Saouma

Daniel is a Legal Intern at LawPath working with the content team. With a interest in consumer and media law he has completed a Bachelor of Business degree majoring in Marketing and is currently completing his law degree at the University of Technology Sydney.