America’s Small Businesses Aren’t Prepared for a Cyber ​​Attack

America’s Small Businesses Aren’t Prepared for a Cyber ​​Attack

Some of the highest-profile cyberattacks in the US in recent years are alleged to have originated from Russia, including the 2021 attack on the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the US National Committee.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in January this year, the US government has warned of a heightened risk of a cyber attack, which Russia could use to try to draw the US into direct conflict. Despite the increased threat, small business owners are no more concerned about a potential cyberattack, and no more prepared to deal with one should one occur, than they were a year ago.

The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey polls more than 2,000 small business owners each quarter to understand their perspective on the overall business environment along with the health of their own business. In the last pollonly 5% of small business owners reported that cybersecurity is the biggest risk to their business right now.

Quarter over quarter, the number saying cybersecurity is their top risk has held steady and is the lowest priority of all five respondents. In the same time period, the number of small business owners who say inflation is the biggest risk to their business increased from 31% to 38%, ranking number one in terms of risk. Figures reporting supply chain disruptions and Covid-19 as the biggest risk have dropped.

This latest round of the Small Business Survey is the first to be conducted after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although international events have had no discernible impact on small business confidence in the US.

Cyber ​​security has consistently been classified as an afterthought for most small business owners when conducting risk assessments.

CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey Q2 2022

While it’s not their top concern, nearly four in 10 small business owners say they are very or somewhat concerned that their business will be the victim of a cyberattack in the next 12 months. This trend has also remained constant for four consecutive quarters, without any change since the Russian incursion into Ukraine.

The smallest small businesses are the least concerned about cyberattacks: only 33% of owners with 0-4 employees are worried about experiencing a cyberattack in a year, compared to 61% of small business owners that have 50 or more employees.

Few small business owners rate cyberthreats as their top business risk and less than half consider it a concern, yet most express confidence in their ability to respond to a cyberattack. As in previous quarters, about six in 10 small business owners are very or somewhat confident that they could quickly resolve a cyberattack on their business if need be.

Cyber ​​disconnect between business owner and customer

This general lack of concern among small business owners differs from the sentiment among the general public. In SurveyMonkey’s own pollthree-quarters of Americans say they expect businesses in the US to experience a major cyberattack in the next 12 months.

Consumer expectations of cyber readiness vary from industry to industry. Most people in the general public say they trust their banks (71%), healthcare providers (64%), and email providers (55%) are equipped to protect them from security threats cybernetics; on the other hand, only 32% expect the social media platforms they use to be prepared.

We see similar results in the small business arena. Small business owners in the finance and insurance industries are some of the most confident that they could respond quickly to a cyber attack; more than seven in 10 say they could fight off an attack. Among those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry, that number drops to 50%.

That’s important, because any cyberattack, even one that’s quickly resolved, can have a lasting negative impact on a business. Consumers would rather not fall victim to a cybersecurity attack and are wary of trusting companies that have been compromised in the past. In SurveyMonkey’s survey, 55% of people in the US say they are less likely to continue doing business with brands that are victims of a cyber attack.

For small businesses to be truly prepared, they need to take more concrete steps. Less than half say they have installed antivirus or malware software, strengthened their passwords, or backed up files to an external hard drive to protect their business from potential cyberattacks. Only a third each have enabled automatic software updates or enabled multi-factor authentication. Only a quarter have installed a virtual private network (VPN).

These are basic actions that most companies in corporate America would consider table stakes, but admittedly they are much more expensive to implement in a small business setting. Small businesses that don’t take the cyber threat seriously risk losing customers, if not more, if a real threat emerges.

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