A new study commissioned by Mastercard has unveiled the scope of cyberattacks among Australia’s small business leaders, with 309,000 saying they have experienced cybersecurity issues. Of those impacted, one-third (33%) claim they experienced financial losses as a result.

Despite an increase in cybercrime in the last year, 31% of small business leaders have been forced to make cuts to cybersecurity due to rising cost pressures, with 63% claiming they are actively trying to scale down business costs amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Mastercard vice president – cyber and intelligence solutions and digital identity, Mallika Sathi said small businesses are the backbone of communities and make economies stronger – but data breaches and cybercrime are posing significant financial and reputational risks.

“With small business leaders being forced to make cuts to cybersecurity due to rising cost pressures, Mastercard has teamed up with Jackson Henry to arm small businesses with easy to understand, actionable insights to better secure their systems and protect themselves,” she said.

Henry is an experienced ethical hacker who identified a vulnerability in the United Nations’ systems that would have exposed over 100,000 personally identifiable records. He has since worked with businesses of all sizes, all around the world.  

“As an ethical hacker, Jackson provides unique and incredibly impactful insight into the vulnerabilities a small business may face. In partnering with him, Mastercard hopes to arm business owners with a clear way to prepare for cybersecurity breaches that doesn’t have to be complex or expensive.”

The tips aim to empower small business owners to take action when it comes to cybersecurity.  They include: 

  1. Educating and training employees  
  2. Using strong, unique passwords  
  3. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA)  
  4. Updating software regularly   
  5. Using antivirus software  
  6. Limiting access rights  
  7. Backing up data securely and regularly   
  8. Exercising caution against phishing   
  9. Enhancing email filtering   
  10. Developing a cybersecurity policy and incident response plan  

“As data breaches and cybercrime pose real financial and reputational risks, it’s more important than ever for small business owners to educate themselves on cybersecurity. Through the Cyber Secure in 60 Seconds series, Mastercard hopes to arm business owners with actionable tips that don’t have to be complex or expensive,” Sathi said.