Emerging digital trends are equally business enablers as they are risk enablers for small businesses.

Running a business in the digital era can be advantageous. It can deliver a more seamless online customer experience and be more cost-effective. But it puts your security and reputation in the firing line.

Cloud

Many small businesses in Australia are taking advantage of cloud technologies, according to QBE cyber insurance expert, Ben Richardson.

“Every company is having to become a tech company,” he said. “SMEs with an online offering will provide customers an improved user experience, whilst using cloud computing internally achieves greater operational flexibility. If your business doesn’t evolve and doesn’t make use of the technology available today, you can lose your competitive advantage.”

There are many benefits to using cloud for a small business, including reduced costs and a higher level of security than may be possible in-house, but it means companies are putting all their eggs in one basket and relying on the cloud provider for accessibility.

“Companies are putting more of their business applications and data online within the cloud. Whilst this will improve operational efficiency, this also means they’re open to risks like data breaches or business interruption arising from a cloud provider or integration outage.”

BYOD (Bring your own device)

In a digital world with flexible working environments, many employees use multiple devices like mobile phones, iPads and laptop computers for both work and personal purposes.

“It’s common and cost-effective in small businesses when employees bring their personal devices to use for work, but it can pose security threats to a business including data leakages,” Richardson said.

“When personal devices are used for business, they’re often more vulnerable because they may not be protected by the company’s security systems and firewall infrastructure. Also, employees could physically lose a device that has confidential information stored on it.”       

Cyber-attacks 

The new mandatory data breach reporting legislationand the increasing number of cyber-attacks and data breaches are risks that are surfacing across businesses of all sizes and across all industries. 

“Cyber-crime itself is constantly changing and at the same time, businesses are becoming more connected,” Richardson explained. “The more we integrate technology, the more open we are to threats.”

According to Richardson, cyber criminals are well organised, patient and can automate attacks. “Given that SMEs are particularly vulnerable to attacks, it’s now wise to consider protection,” he said.

“A data breach or system hack can not only interrupt business income, but can leave a business owner liable for extra costs such as forensic costs, public relations consultation costs, IT asset rectification costs, legal expenses, as well as potential third party liability claims as a result of a cyber event.”