In view of the Russa-Ukraine war, the U.S. government has warned of higher risk of cyberattacks coming from Russia. Why? Because Russia would be carrying out these cyberattacks to pull the U.S. into the conflict.
Unfortunately, this heads-up wasn’t enough to motivate small businesses to be prepared for these potential cyber threats.
In the latest CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, 2000+ small business owners were interviewed and inquired about their top business risks.
Surprisingly, only 5% of small businesses considered cybersecurity as the top threat. Compared to the Q1’22 survey, this figure has remained constant and has stayed as the least important risk factor for businesses.
In contrast, inflation was seen as the top risk to businesses, increasing from 31% in the first quarter to 38% in the second. On the other hand, COVID-19 and Supply Chain Disruptions declined by 7% and 4%, respectively.
Although cybersecurity is considered the least-important risk, around 40% of small business owners feel vulnerable to cyberattacks in the next 12 months. Just 33% of businesses with 0-4 employees felt susceptible to cyberattacks, compared to 61% with 50+ employees.
While not many consider cybersecurity a serious concern to their businesses, the majority are confident to respond to a cyber attack. Around 6 in 10 businesses believe they can promptly resolve a cyber attack if such a situation arises.
A difference in sentiment between business owners and the general public
As it turns out, the average American is more concerned about cyber threats than small business owners.
Based on SurveyMonkey’s polling, 75% of Americans expect U.S. businesses to experience a major cyberattack in the next 12 months.
Of those who were surveyed, 71% believe that the banking sector is most well-equipped to counteract cyberattacks, followed by healthcare providers and email providers at 64% and 55%, respectively. By contrast, just 32% expect social media platforms to be prepared enough.
A similar pattern was observed in terms of small business owners.
More than 70% of small businesses in the finance and insurance sectors were confident to take on cyberattacks, compared to just 50% in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry.
What makes these figures important is that consumers would be reluctant to do business with organizations that have been compromised in the past. In fact, a SurveyMonkey polling reveals that 55% of the U.S. population was less likely to trust brands with a record of cyberattacks.
Small businesses need to take concrete, actionable steps to be in a well-guarded state against potential cyber-attacks.
It’s alarming that less than 50% each have strong passwords, antivirus/malware installed, or file backups on hard drives. On the other hand, only a third each have enabled automatic software updates or multi-factor authentication, whereas just 25% have a VPN in place.
While these should be the basic precautionary measures for every American business, it’s extra expensive to implement them in small business settings.
That said, if small businesses continue taking cyber threats lightly, they’d face devastating consequences, including loss of customers, when a real cyber threat emerges.