The National Small Business Association recently released its 2013 Small Business Technology Survey, a study of small-business owners selected by the association. Among the findings were that 94 percent of small-business owners were worried about cybersecurity and nearly half reported their businesses were victims of cyberattacks.
The top three information technology concerns facing small businesses are the cost of upgrades, security issues and the time it takes to fix problems. According to the association, cyberattacks cost small businesses an average of $8,699 for each attack; businesses whose banking accounts were hacked had an average loss of $6,927.
Small-business owners have good reason to be concerned. According to the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report released in April, attackers use small businesses as pawns for more sophisticated attacks and to hit bigger organizations. The largest growth area for cyberattacks in 2012 was businesses with fewer than 250 employees. In fact, 31 percent of all attacks singled out that group, a threefold increase in number from 2011.
The top economic sector for attacks has shifted from government to manufacturing, the report said. Another finding was that the employees most singled out for attack in 2012 — 27 percent — were knowledge workers like engineers, scientists, lawyers and communications specialists. These people create the intellectual property that attackers want. Those in sales, who manage customer data, were the target of 24 percent of attacks.
The National Small Business Association study found that the use of cloud computing, smartphones and tablets had increased significantly over the last three years, since the last time the association conducted a survey. Social media play a larger role in a small business’s online strategy now — in fact, only 27 percent of small businesses do not use social media. Small-business owners are handling more of their own technology needs, rather than paying an outside firm or consultant to do it. And a growing reliance on mobile technology tools has driven an increase in the percentage of small businesses that allow their employees to telecommute — to 60 percent today from 44 percent in 2010.