NSBA Survey: Cyberattacks Concern Small Business Owners

By Jason Bramwell
The overwhelming majority of small business owners recently surveyed by the National Small Business Association (NSBA) are worried about the security of their IT and online properties.
Of the 845 small business owners  both members and nonmembers of the NSBA  who responded to questions in August for the 2013 Small Business Technology Survey, 94 percent said they are either very concerned (59 percent) or somewhat concerned (35 percent) about cybersecurity, while nearly half (44 percent) of small businesses report having been the victim of a cyberattack. 
"Small business owners are handling more of their firm's IT operations," NSBA President and CEO Todd McCracken said in a written statement. "This growing IT reliance makes issues, such as cybersecurity, intellectual property protection, and a functional online marketplace, critically important in today's global economy."
When asked who is primarily responsible for handling their business' tech support, 40 percent of small business owners said they do it themselves, up from 25 percent in 2010. Thirty-two percent said a member of their staff handles it, down 4 percent from three years ago, while 24 percent pay an outside company to handle tech support, down 12 percent from 2010. 

Additional Key Survey Findings

  • The majority of small firms (66 percent) maintain their website internally, while one in three small businesses pay an outside company to handle it. 
  • The top five social media platforms that small business owners use are LinkedIn (57 percent), Facebook (50 percent), Twitter (26 percent), Google+ (24 percent), and YouTube (19 percent). Twenty-seven percent said they do not use social media. 
  • Business networking (85 percent) remains the top reason small business owners use social media.
  • Twenty-five percent of small business owners have little understanding of cybersecurity issues; 2 percent said they have no understanding. 
  • Less than 1 percent of small businesses share or sell their customer's information with outside parties.
Thirty-nine percent of small business owners said they are in charge of their organization's online security, while 33 percent said a member of their staff handles it. Twenty-one percent contract with an outside company to handle online security. 
Small business utilization of technology platforms or items  such as Cloud computing (43 percent in 2013 versus 5 percent in 2010), smartphones (74 percent versus 57 percent), and laptops (84 percent versus 67 percent)  increased over the last three years. This shift has driven an increase in small business owners who report they allow employees to telecommute  up from 44 percent three years ago to 60 percent today. 
The cost of needed upgrades (44 percent), security issues (42 percent), and the time it takes to fix problems (41 percent) were rated as the top three IT challenges facing small firms. When it comes to challenges with their websites, time was again a key factor, as 64 percent of small business owners cited the time it takes to make updates as their biggest challenge. The cost of maintaining their website was less of a factor; however, 26 percent still said it was the biggest issue they face concerning their website. 
Cyberattacks cost small businesses on average $8,699 per attack, according to survey results. Among those whose business banking accounts were hacked, the average losses were $6,927. Business checking accounts are not protected the same way as traditional consumer banking accounts  a loophole in the law of which just one in four small businesses are aware. 
About the survey: 
The 2013 Small Business Technology Survey by the NSBA was conducted online from August 14 to 23 among 845 small business owners, representing every industry in every state in the nation. While the survey was sent to a larger sample set than a similar survey conducted by the NSBA in 2010, the demographics were largely in line with the previous sample sets.
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