New survey about cybersecurity
Using connected technologies like artificial intelligence, drones, robotics or wearable sensors can increase a business’s likelihood of being a cyberattack victim because these technologies give cybercriminals new access points into a company’s IT infrastructure if not properly protected. More than 90 percent of business owners use one of these technologies — and 48 percent are unconcerned they will increase the likelihood of a cyberattack.
According to Nationwide’s fourth annual Business Owner Survey, while the number of self-reported cyberattacks against the U.S. small- and mid-sized businesses surveyed declined 4 percentage points year over year, the number of business owners who are unconcerned with cyberattacks spiked, with an 18-percentage point year-over-year difference (22 percent unconcerned in 2017 vs. 40 percent unconcerned in 2018) — and those “very unconcerned” grew nearly 50 percent (9 percent in 2017 vs. 17 percent in 2018). Alongside this lack of concern, 65 percent of business owners do not have a dedicated employee or vendor in place to monitor for cyberattacks — an 8-percentage point increase from 2017.
“Cybercriminals are increasingly gaining access to businesses’ systems through connected technology,” said Karen Johnston, expert cyber consultant for Nationwide. “Many business owners don’t realize that using drones or even smart devices makes their business more susceptible to cyberattacks — especially if they don’t take the proper precautions or put someone in charge of monitoring for attacks. The scary fact we’re seeing is that business owners are becoming more apathetic towards their risk of cyberattacks and therefore aren’t protecting themselves as well, even though the concern of cyberattacks against them is still very real.”
Business owners lack clarity on what a cyberattack really is — which can make an attack more difficult to protect against. According to Nationwide’s study, which surveyed 1,000 business owners with between 1-499 employees, only 9 percent said their business had been a cyberattack victim when asked directly. Yet when given a list, 50 percent said their business experienced at least one type of harmful cyber activity. This points to a 41-percentage point awareness gap of what a cyberattack is. Computer viruses (27 percent) and phishing attacks (25 percent) were the most frequently reported type of attack.
Business owners also report more than a 20-percentage point gap across the board in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s cybersecurity best practices that they say are important versus those that they implement. For example:
- Make backup copies of important business data and information: 84 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 58 percent do it.
- Protect against viruses, spyware and other malicious code: 83 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 60 percent do it.
- Secure networks:81 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 54 percent do it.
- Control physical access to computers and network components: 78 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 56 percent do it.
- Establish security practices and policies to protect sensitive information: 76 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 47 percent do it.
- Require employees to use strong passwords and to change them often: 76 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 49 percent do it.
- Educate employees about cyber threats and hold them accountable: 72 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 39 percent do it.
- Protect all pages on public-facing websites, not just the checkout and sign-up pages: 71 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 38 percent do it.
- Employ best practices on payment cards: 71 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 46 percent do it.
- Create a mobile device action plan: 59 percent of business owners acknowledge this is important but only 27 percent do it.
Nationwide commissioned Edelman Intelligence to conduct a 20-minute, online survey between April 9-20, 2018, among a sample of 1,000 U.S. business owners. Business owners are defined as having between 1-499 employees, being 18 years or older and self-reporting as either a sole or partial owner of their business. The margin of error for this sample was +/-3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. As a member of CASRO in good standing, Edelman Intelligence conducts all research in accordance with Market Research Standards and Guidelines.
Nationwide is providing this information as part of its Business Solutions Center website content and enewsletter. The information included on this enewsletter and the Business Solutions Center website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not legal, tax, financial, or any other sort of advice; nor is it a substitute for such advice. The information may not apply to your specific situation. We have tried to make sure the information is accurate, but it could be outdated or even inaccurate, in parts. It is the reader's responsibility to comply with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations, and to make their own decisions about how to operate their business. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, its affiliates, and their employees make no warranties about the information, no guarantee of results, and assume no liability in connection with the information provided.