Biggest Cyber-Blind Spot for Small Business Owners? Remote Workers
Nationwide survey shows only half of U.S. small business owners take cybersecurity precautions with remote employees
As work-life and technology continue to evolve, a growing number of small business owners find themselves adopting remote work policies or “WFH” perks. However, their employees, who use company platforms and networks in popular locations such as coffee shops and airports, are more susceptible to the risk of an online attack.
According to Nationwide’s fifth annual Business Owner Survey, 83 percent of small business owners allow and offer employees the option to work securely from a remote location when needed and appropriate. With young business owners (those ranging from ages 18-34), this number jumps up to 95 percent. Yet, only 50 percent of small business owners have updated their remote work security policy in the past year. Failing to continually revise remote work policies in the growing digital workplace could put those business owners at higher risk of a cyber-attack.
“An ounce of prevention” found lacking…
Though remote employees place businesses at risk, many small business owners are not properly mitigating other potential cyberthreats, nor are they adequately protecting their employee platforms. According to the Nationwide survey, only four percent of business owners have implemented all of the cybersecurity best practices and recommendations from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Further, one in five small business owners have not committed their employees to formal cybersecurity training, despite the reality that employees represent one of their largest threats.
“What may seem like a harmless public Wi-Fi network could ultimately pose serious troubles for a business,” says Catherine Rudow, vice president of cyber insurance at Nationwide. “Many employees may not realize the magnitude of risk associated with a cyberattack as they may not have engaged in a formal training process. The scary truth is that many small business owners, even if they are aware of these risks, have not implemented all the proper measures of protection.”
For education and cyber-prevention, the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends the following best practices:
• Establish security practices and policies to protect sensitive information
• Educate employees about cyberthreats and hold them accountable
• Require employees to use strong passwords and to change them often
• Employ best practices on payment cards
• Make backup copies of important business data and information
• Create a mobile device action plan
• Protect all pages on your public-facing websites, not just the checkout and sign-up pages
Portrait of the cyberthreat for small businesses
Nationwide’s Business Owner Survey also found:
• 65 percent of business owners admit they have been victim of a cyberattack; computer virus attacks are the top type of attack reported at 33 percent, phishing is number two at 29 percent.
• 86 percent of business owners believe that digital risk will continue to grow.
• 30 percent of companies with 11-50 employees do not provide any type of formal training on cybersecurity.
• Despite the simplicity of regularly updating software, seven percent of companies still fail to take that step.
• Reputational risk is among the top reasons (45 percent) why business owners would consider investing in or purchasing a cybersecurity policy.
• 35 percent of business owners who have never experienced a cyberattack are unaware of the financial cost to recover, highlighting a dangerous gap in knowledge from the implications.
Nationwide commissioned Edelman Intelligence to conduct an online survey between June 6-12, 2019, among a sample of 400 U.S. small business owners. Small business owners are defined as having between 11-500 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 +/-4.9 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, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.