Only 1 in 5 aware of cyber security breaches

Recent breaches of security at Reserve Bank and LinkedIn have generated renewed interest on the topic of cyber security and what businesses are doing to keep themselves safe from online hackers.

For many small businesses, data stored "in the cloud" or on a shared server can expose them to significant security risks, as well as businesses that collect sensitive customer details such as credit card numbers, at point of sale online. But are current IT systems adequate to safeguard themselves against increasingly sophisticated attacks?

A new report released in February by Australia's national computer emergency response team CERT Australia  and the University of Canberra reveals that only one in five organisations are aware they have experienced a cyber incident in the previous 12 months. Nearly 10 per cent indicated they did not know if they had experienced an electronic attack in the past year.

According to the report, which surveyed over 250 organisations from 11 industry sectors in Australia, the statistics may indicate that most organisations have not experienced a cyber attack, but this may more accurately reflect that a number of cyber intrusions have gone undetected by some organisations.

Of those who had experienced cyber attacks, 17 per cent experienced a loss of confidential information and 10 per cent suffered from financial fraud. The main types of incidents reported included the theft of a laptop, tablet or mobile device (one-third), a virus infection (28 per cent) and malware (21 per cent). This comes despite 90 per cent of respondents indicating they have firewalls, anti-spam filters and anti-virus software in place, and over two-thirds stating they employ staff with tertiary level IT security qualifications.

When it comes to reporting, a significant 44 per cent of respondents did not report the incident to anyone outside their organisation, with the primary reason being afraid of negative publicity if news of the incident became public (74 per cent). This was followed by 35 per cent that did not believe law enforcement had the ability to effectively investigate the cyber incident, while 26 per cent did not think the hacker(s) would be caught.

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