A recent survey of just over 1,000 small- and medium-sized businesses found that 58 percent of respondents experienced a data breach in the previous 12 months, according to a new SMB cyber-security research report from Keeper Security and the Ponemon Institute. An even larger number, 67 percent, said they experienced at least one form of cyber-attack, the most common of which were phishing or social engineering schemes, web-based attacks and malware campaigns.
With the prospect of future cyber-attacks seemingly inevitable, one would hope SMBs are adequately prepared to handle such threats. But instead, the "2018 State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium Size Businesses" study reveals that a discouraging 47 percent of respondents said they have no understanding of how to defend their companies against cyber-attacks, while only 28 percent said their abilities to mitigate threats were "highly effective."
The data breach and cyber-attack statistics notably trended up from the 2017 version of the study, when 54 percent of surveyed SMBs said they were breached and 61 percent said they encountered a cyber-attack.
Of the 2018 survey-takers who said their SMB company had been breached, 60 percent said the cause was a negligent employee or contractor, up from 54 percent in the 2017 version of the report. Third party mistakes and external hacker attacks were, respectively, the second and third most common reasons cited for a data breach.
Compared to the previous report, more SMB companies also reported facing a successful or unsuccessful ransomware attack in the 12 months prior to the survey — 61 percent in 2018 versus 52 percent in 2017. Among those were were infected, 70 percent paid the ransom, with an average payment of US$ 1,466 (£1,139). The top reason for not paying was the presence of a full back-up, followed by a lack of trust that the attackers would actually restore the affected files.
Ask what specifically is preventing their IT security postures from being fully effective, respondents most commonly named insufficient personnel, insufficient money and a lack of understanding of how to protect against cyber-attacks as their biggest challenges. Those were also the top three challenges named in the 2017 version of the report.
"More SMBs are experiencing highly sophisticated and targeted cyber-attacks, said Darren Guccione, CEO and co-founder of Keeper Security, in a press release. "There is a failure to use strong passwords, two-factor authentication and unique passwords for every website, application and system. This is exposing SMBs to cyber-criminals."
Conducted in late 2018, the survey incorporated the responses of 1,045 individuals from companies in the US and UK with 1,000 employees or fewer.
This story was originally published on SC Media US.