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Overseas conflict signals increasing cyber risk for SMEs
8 March 2022 | Minutes to read: 2

Overseas conflict signals increasing cyber risk for SMEs

By William Buck

South Australian businesses face increasing risk of being caught up in global cyber attacks stemming from the Russia Ukraine conflict, according to an Adelaide-based security specialist.

Adam Hack, Head of Security Operations at Nuago, says unsuspecting local businesses may be targeted directly or indirectly by overseas-based criminal organisations looking for vulnerable targets beyond the geography of the current conflict.

“While we’re not yet seeing direct attacks on SA SMEs as a result of the invasion, the overall threat level has definitely risen,” he said.

“The Australian Cyber Security Centre has acknowledged the heightened threat environment and recently began urging all organisations to adopt what it calls an enhanced cyber security position.

“Unfortunately, SMEs are often their own worst enemy when it comes to cyber security.

“Despite the heightened risk, it’s worrying that too many local businesses are unaware, unprepared and unprotected.

“SMEs commonly assume that they are too small or too far away to be on the radar of global crime syndicates. It’s a false sense of security that can have devastating consequences.”

Mr Hack said the most effective cyber risk mitigation strategies focused on measures to harden and protect an organisation’s ICT systems and accounts as well as workforce education on risk awareness and safe online behaviour.

“This also includes looking at ways to improve collaboration and communication between the executive and staff so everyone is educated and empowered,” he said.

“CFOs and ICT professionals in particular need to be on the same page to allow for the most effective and sustainable investment in cyber security.

“Cyber security is an ongoing process. It’s not a product that can be installed and then forgotten about.”

A recent Business SA William Buck Survey of Business Expectations found 42% of SA SMEs did not have any formal risk management plan in place.

William Buck Audit and Assurance Director Matthew King said the impacts of a cyber attack can be far-reaching.

“It can cause significant financial, productivity and data loss as well as reputational damage,” Mr King said.

“Employees, customers and the whole supply chain can become compromised, which can have longer term consequences for your business.”

Mr Hack will be presenting on cyber security risk and strategy at an upcoming business forum to be held in Adelaide.

The William Buck Adelaide 2022 CFO Summit at Adelaide Oval on April 6 will hear from industry leaders, powerbrokers and technical experts on the key issues currently facing business and finance professionals.

Other guest speakers include Nova Systems CEO Jim McDowell, Former Federal Defence Minister Christopher Pyne, SA Chief Entrepreneur Andrew Nunn and Healthy Minds Founder Dr Tom Nehmy.

For event information please visit our 2022 CFO Summit page here.


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