Small businesses advised to take cyber security precautions after Queensland retailers held to ransom

AVG security advisor Michael McKinnon has warned small businesses that they may be at greater risk of cybercrime then they think, and to improve their levels of vulnerability management before it is too late.

Speaking at Retail Expo 2012 in Sydney on Wednesday (September 25), Mr McKinnon noted that many small to medium retailers do not take enough responsibility for digital security.

said Mr McKinnon.

According to Mr McKinnon, retailers who do a lot of business online are usually less vulnerable to cybercrime as they invest heavily in protecting themselves in this area, whereas smaller retailers with less of a digital presence do not take such precautions.

noted Mr McKinnon.

The advice is timely as it comes less than a week after the Queensland police issued a statement urging SMEs to be cautious surrounding digital security after a series of cybercrime incidents.

According to an alert issued September 20, two small businesses in the state recently had their systems infected with malware, resulting in the theft of confidential customer information.

The businesses were then held for ransom, with the cybercriminals demanding cash payment in exchange for the release of the stolen files.

Queensland police have encouraged businesses to patch their servers, utilise a strong IT network security solution and inform staff of the realities of cybercrime in order to reduce their risk of become a victim.

Another good way for retailers to ensure they are fully protected from cybercrime is by remaining PCI DSS compliant at all times, and by undergoing regular security audit evaluations in order to determine any potential gaps or weaknesses in their system.

According to Mr McKinnon, the ramifications of a security breach on a small business can be huge, resulting in the loss of valuable time, money and reputation.

With social networking creating a much more public and open communication sphere for consumers, Mr McKinnon noted that stories of retailers a hacker to access confidential information can quickly spread.

In a particularly competitive market, this can often lead to customers changing to other retailers which they consider to have a better reputation.

said Mr McKinnon.

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