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AUSTRALIAN SMALL BUSINESSES LAG ON COMPUTER SECURITY

Source: Herald Sun

Posted on February 20, 2012

Small businesses have embraced the internet but 16 per cent don't use anti-virus software and 30 per cent don't use a protective firewall, a new study shows.

That leaves them at risk from an extensive and increasing number of internet threats, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) says.

Releasing the study for Safe Internet Day, Attorney General Nicola Roxon said most small businesses could not function without the internet. "So it's important small businesses can identify threats and can put in place measures to protect themselves and their customers,'' she said.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said small business accounted for around 95 per cent of all Australian businesses, contributing around 34 per cent of private industry value to the economy.

The survey - the Australian Business Assessment of Computer Use Security (ABACUS) - included 3290 small business respondents, with 14 per cent reporting one or more security incidents in the period 2006-07.

"Cyber attacks can stop a small business being productive and this can have wider economic implications for the country,'' he said in a statement.

Seventy-five per cent of those who experienced security incidents reported adverse consequences including loss of data, unavailability of service and an average financial loss of $2,431.

On top of traditional threats including viruses and malware, new threats are emerging.

The survey found that 84 per cent of businesses were using anti-virus software, 63 per cent were using anti-spam programs and 58 per cent were using anti-spyware tools.

But only 70 per cent of small businesses were using firewalls to protect their computer systems and only seven per cent had policies in place stipulating acceptable computer use by staff.

"The risks for businesses and their online customers are likely to change and potentially increase,'' Report author AIC analyst Alice Hutchings said.




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