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Small and medium sized businesses given new tools to combat rise in cyber attacks

31 August 2022


Westpac has today launched its free Cyber Response Playbook to help counter the increase in cyber attacks, as new research shows almost half (49 per cent) of Australian small and medium sized businesses have experienced a cyber attack in the last 12 months.

In response to a cyber attack, almost a fifth (17 per cent) of SME organisations had to shut operations until the issue was fixed, one in four (25 per cent) lost data and nearly a tenth (8 per cent) had to pay a ransom to end the attack.

Phishing (30 per cent) was found to be the most common type of cyber attack, followed by Malware attacks (21 per cent).

“Our research shows that preparing for and mitigating cyber attacks is a key priority for business owners, with almost two thirds planning to invest in cyber security measures in the next 12 months,” said Richard Johnson, Westpac’s Group Chief Information Security Officer.

“Almost 90 per cent of small business owners in Australia admit they could do more to educate themselves about cyber attacks, which is why we are launching this playbook, to help them be better prepared to manage one if it occurs.

“In the 2020-21 financial year, cyber attacks accounted for $33 billion in self-reported losses nationwide. Unfortunately, we are seeing a further rise in these attacks, as online businesses boom and more employees continue to work from home separated from the office systems built by employers to counter cyber attacks,” he said.

The research showed just over three out of five (62 per cent) small and medium sized businesses will invest in cyber security measures in the next 12 months, while 41 per cent said they have a cyber attack response plan in place.

Westpac’s Cyber Response Playbook provides businesses with an outline of a five-step plan to manage a cyber attack, which includes tools such as tips to gather key contacts, through to helping them understand how to detect and contain a threat, before resetting and restoring their business online.

“A cyber response plan is crucial for hitting the ground running if there is a cyber incident,” said Derek Bopping, First Assistant Director-General, Cyber, Engagement and Strategy Divison, Australian Cyber Security Centre. 

“Too often, we see small and medium sized businesses lose days and weeks to cyber attacks, simply because they are not prepared and don’t know how to handle an attack. As threats continue to rise we encourage every business to spend time planning for a potential attack,” he said.

Westpac’s Cyber Response Playbook can be found here (PDF 470KB).

Note for editors:

B-roll and overlay vision can be found here.

More than 500 businesses were surveyed for this research, which was commissioned by Westpac and conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard.

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