What Small Businesses Need to Know About Cyber Security

Indra Gunawan
February 16, 2021


Small businesses are often under the impression that they aren’t big enough to be on the radar of cybercriminals. However, that is far from the case. In fact, the Australian Government has reported that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the target of 43% of all cybercrimes. The truth is many hackers make a living focusing on smaller, more vulnerable businesses. While all businesses should devote resources to cyber security, it is the smaller ones that often lack the knowledge or budget to protect themselves. This increases their vulnerability, making them an even more tempting target.


If you want to be competitive in today’s business world, the chances are that some aspect of your business is online. Naturally, it is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to reach potential customers. New technologies are continually being added into the mix, especially in a time when a global pandemic has forced us to adapt our business models. Personal mobile devices, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cloud computing are all common to SMBs. However, while small businesses are keen to keep up with the competition and adopt new technologies, security technologies and practices often get left behind.

The 2019 ACSC Small Business Cyber Security Survey found 62% of small businesses reported that they had previously been a victim of a cyber security incident. Whether by phishing attacks, compromised devices, credential theft or data loss, SMBs are at equal if not greater risk as large corporations of having their data compromised, identities stolen, and operations turned upside down. While many companies think they are too small or insignificant to be a potential target, that is far from the case. The less time, money, training, and resources put towards cyber security, the greater the risk becomes.


Cyber security can seem overwhelming as there is a constantly evolving cyber threat landscape and countless technologies to choose from. However, by following a few simple cyber security tips, SMBs can put themselves in a much stronger position.

The Centre for Internet Security (CIS) is a great resource for small businesses to refer to. It can help them to develop an initial framework which will protect them from the most common cyber security incidents. As a starting point, there are six basic controls and resources that SMBs should consider:

1. Inventory and Control of Hardware Assets

Small businesses should use a discovery tool to identify connected devices and build and maintain an accurate, up-to-date inventory of all assets that may store or process information.

2. Inventory and Control of Software Assets

Small businesses should use software inventory tools to enable them to document all software used across the business. They should also use whitelisting technology to ensure only authorised software can access business assets.

3. Continuous Vulnerability Management

Small businesses should use a vulnerability scanning tool to identify potential vulnerabilities and use automated software update tools to ensure there are no gaps in security on their operating systems.

4. Controlled Use of Administrative Privileges

Small businesses should ensure users with administrative accounts don’t use them for unrelated purposes such as internet browsing. Meanwhile, systems should be configured to send alerts when accounts are added or removed from administrative privileges.

5. Secured Configuration of All Assets

Small businesses should maintain documented security configuration standards for all authorised systems and software. They should also utilise a configuration monitoring system which verifies security configurations, archives approved exceptions, and send alerts for unauthorised changes.

6. Maintenance, Monitoring and Analysis

Small businesses should ensure audit logs are enabled on all systems and devices and are added to a central log management system. More than simply for compliance purposes, audit logs should be analysed to ensure cyber threats can be identified and remedied.


With 97% of Australian businesses having less than 20 staff, SMBs are a significant target to cybercriminals. Resources can be scarce, priorities can conflict, and knowledge of cyber security can be lacking. However, many of the practices highlighted above are effective and inexpensive ways of mitigating the threat of cyber incidents. In this way, understanding the risks, building a framework, and identifying weaknesses is the first step towards being able to plan and respond to incidents.

At Infotrust, we understand that knowing where to begin is often the hardest part. As a trusted security partner, we are able to support small businesses in their security journey, steadily maturing their security posture and helping to mitigate the risks associated with cybercrime. Contact us today to start your security journey.