Small and medium retailers vulnerable to online attacks

  • News
  • June 23, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Small and medium retailers vulnerable to online attacks

Connect Smart Week is focused on SMEs, as statistics by MBIE show small businesses are very much the lifeblood of New Zealand’s economy.

Around 97 percent (459,300) of Kiwi enterprises are small businesses.

These businesses combined employ more than 584,000 people, making up 30 percent of the workforce.

Smaller companies with less than 20 employees are more vulnerable than bigger corporations, communications minister Amy Adams says.

 “SMEs often don’t have the resources available to spend on security that bigger businesses do which leaves them vulnerable to online intrusion,” Adams says.

“Recent reports show 60 per cent of all cyber-attacks are aimed at SMEs.”

Kiwi men’s clothing label I Love Ugly is the latest to have been subject to a cyber attack.

The business had 18 full-time staff and 13 part-time staff and hit $7.5 million in sales in 2014.

Last week, it had its website and defaced with a graphic image and message.

The hack remained up online for a couple of hours, before eventually being returned to I Love Ugly’s carefully curated branding.

After the hack was fixed, the brand assured its customers their details were safe on Facebook: “We’d also like to take this opportunity to reassure you that your details remained secure. We have verified that there was no access the database. We’re reviewing security measures now to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Director of National Cyber Policy Office Paul Ash says there are a few simple steps a business can take to improve its online cyber security.

These are:
1. Check your passwords so they are complex, and different across your devices
2. Check you software is up-to-date on your computer
3. Back up your important data to somewhere secure so you have a copy if something goes wrong
4. Check your privacy settings on your social media accounts – do a quick Google search to find out what’s out there about you
5. Start a conversation – is everyone you know Connecting Smart?

Despite these warnings about the dangers of the web, Adams says Connect Smart doesn’t want to discourage businesses from using the internet.  

Instead, it wants to get more companies online, as only half of New Zealand SMEs have an online website.

“Connect Smart is not about deterring people from the internet – it is about empowering New Zealand to use the internet wisely and in an educated way,” she says.

Adams says if all New Zealand SMEs were online it could add up to $34 billion in productivity gains.

As well as this, she says businesses that use the internet to its full potential are six percent more productive on average.

​ ​

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