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SME losses average $19K

09 Mar 2017

Financial losses as a result of cyber-attacks averaged $19,000 for smaller New Zealand businesses, according to a survey by security software firm Symantec, almost three times the losses for Australian firms.

The survey of 525 business owners and operators of firms employing up to 20 people found that email and phishing scams were by far the most common, with 70 percent saying they had been subject to such attacks. A further 47 percent said they had been subjected to hacking attacks.

Norton by Symantec Pacific Territory manager Mark Gorrie said ransomware operations are becoming more sophisticated, with reports some even used help desks to assist with payments after firms were locked out of their own computers. The encryption used was also becoming harder to break.

Some 5 percent of business owners said they had been affected by a ransomware attack and 13 percent of those had paid a ransom to get back access to their data, with an average payment of $1,340. While all of them did manage to get their data back, in Australia 8 percent of those who paid never got it back, Gorrie said.

The average financial loss for small Australian firms surveyed was A$6,600.

The survey showed 91 percent of the small businesses used Windows devices and 48 percent had Windows 10 as their main operating system. Some 84 percent of laptops and 72 percent of mobile phones were password protected, the survey showed. A further 27 percent said staff had access to their firm's financial data via a mobile phone while 36 percent could access it through a home computer.

The biggest impact of attacks was in the time wasted, with 45 percent citing downtime and 41 percent inconvenience. Privacy breaches were cited by 16 percent of those in the survey while 15 percent suffered financial loss and 12 percent lost data.

The survey found that 70 percent of firms used internet security, while 18 percent didn't and 12 percent didn't know if they did. Data recovery scored lower, with just 31 percent having systems in place to automatically back up data, 26 percent were doing it manually once a day and 19 percent weekly. Seven percent said they never backed up data or didn't know.


 - Scoop Business Desk

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