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4/10 Australian SMEs fallen victim to cyber-attacks since pandemic

By Shannon Williams
Fri 27 May 2022

Almost four out of teb SMEs in Australia have fallen victim to cyber-attacks since the pandemic began, according to a new study.

Software Advice, the B2B software search website, has revealed the results of a study analysing the effects of cyber security attacks on small businesses and how much they can cost - financially or otherwise. 

Cyber-attacks remain just as prevalent as ever for SMEs, with almost 4 out of 10 businesses (39%) having experienced a ransomware attack, according to the 202 IT specialist respondents surveyed. This can be broken down as 27% who said their company ‘faced a ransomware attack once’ and 14% who said their company has previously ‘faced several’ attacks.

Almost 4 out of 10 businesses that experienced one or more ransomware attacks have done so since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. This could be due to a number of reasons, including the sudden surge in remote working and the introduction, for many SMEs in particular, the introduction of cloud-based systems. The pandemic saw businesses investing in technology solutions as a way to survive and combat issues any remote working issues, but in doing so has seen a rise in criminal cyber activity.

Software Advice found that out of the group who were affected by a ransomware attack and paid for it, more than one-quarter (27%) confirmed that their company paid between $30,001 and $60,000 for the ransom - regardless of whether they retrieved the stolen data back or not. 

A combined total of half of the respondents (53%) in the group who were targeted by cybercriminals said their company paid off the ransom. 40% of IT staff did not pay anything yet they managed to get their data back, which may prove to be frustrating for those who did pay but were unable to retrieve their stolen data. Only 7% of companies did not pay the ransom and did not retrieve their stolen data.

“The cost of a cyber-attack goes beyond the price of the ransom, but the good news is that SMEs can protect themselves from threats by implementing an array of security measures,” says Laura Burgess, content analyst at Software Advice.

“With any new way of working, implementing the right tools in combination with employee training can ensure that companies minimise the chance of an attack," she says.
 
The other problematic impacts of a ransomware attack chosen by respondents included ‘loss of reputation’ (38%), ‘loss of clients’ (35%), and ‘loss of employees’ (12%).

To collect this data, Software Advice interviewed 436 professionals in March 2022 in Australia (202 respondents) and the UK (234 respondents). 

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