One-third of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) have no idea if the organisation has been the victim of cyber crime or malicious hackers in the past 12 months, while management in over half of SMEs don’t see cyber attacks as significant risks.
That’s according to the Risk of an Uncertain Security Strategy study conducted by independent research firm Ponemon Institute sponsored by security solutions provider Sophos, which highlights that SMBs need better help to understand the potential threats of cyber attacks.
“One-third of respondents admit they are not certain if a cyber attack has occurred in the past 12 months,” said the report.
Because of this lack of knowledge about the frequency and magnitude of such attacks, actionable intelligence appears to be deficient,” it continued, adding that in order to remedy the problem IT managers “will be investing in big data analytics and network traffic intelligence over the next three years.”
The research claims that cyber attacks have cost SMBs an average of $1.6m (£1m) over the past 12 months, the cost of which will only rise if both the IT department and management fail to gain a better understanding of increasing cyber threats.
That’s especially the case if organisations can’t get a grasp of changes in the workplace brought about by the likes of BYOD and cloud technology.
“Small and midsize organisations simply cannot afford to disregard security. Without it there’s more chance that new technology will face cyber attacks, which is likely to cost the business substantial amounts,” said Larry Ponemon, president of the Ponemon Institute, who warned that security should always come first when adopting new technologies.
“CIOs are under pressure to implement new technology that informs agile and efficient ways of working, but this should not take precedence over security.
“The industry needs to recognise the potential dangers of not taking cyber security seriously and create support systems to improve SMB security postures,” he said.
Gerhard Eschelbeck, chief technology officer for Sophos, argued the research demonstrates security is increasingly “taking a back seat”.
“The scale of cyber attack threats is growing every single day, yet this research shows that many SMBs are failing to appreciate the dangers and potential losses they face from not adopting a suitably robust IT security posture,” he said.
“Today in SMBs, the CIO is often the ‘only information officer’, managing multiple and increasingly complex responsibilities within the business,” Eschelbeck continued.
“However, these OIOs can’t do everything on their own and as employees are demanding access to critical apps, systems and documents from a diverse range of mobile devices, it would appear security is often taking a back seat,” he added.
The report recommends that organisations need to focus on monitoring, reporting and proactively detecting threats, and formulate best practice for mobile and BYOD.
It also suggests organisations keep a proper record of the cost of cyber attacks, including downtime and loss of productivity caused by malicious hackers.
The research surveyed more than 2,000 respondents across the US, UK, Germany and Asia-Pacific.