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article image25% of small firms 'doing nothing' to defend against cyberthreats

By James Walker     Nov 9, 2017 in Technology
Most small business owners feel "underprepared" to deal with cybersecurity threats, according to a study of digital trends published today. 25% of firms said they feel they're "doing nothing" to keep data secure, although digital adoption is growing.
The figures were revealed in a nationwide study of technology trends amongst small businesses looking ahead into 2018. The data was collected by SurveyMonkey on behalf of Microsoft and looked at 1,300 U.S. small businesses employing under 200 people.
Cybersecurity preparations
Cybersecurity is one of the biggest difficulties encountered by small firms. Business owners are realising the need to bring technology into their work. They're getting stuck when it comes to security though, with many admitting they're unable to respond appropriately to threats.
Graph from a Microsoft study into digital transformation amongst small businesses
Graph from a Microsoft study into digital transformation amongst small businesses
Microsoft
Although owners are aware of the risks, a lack of support and expertise is making it difficult to implement or create cybersecurity strategies. At many firms, the setbacks are turning into frustration that eventually causes them to give up entirely. 50 percent said they "are not concerned" about the risks of a data breach, despite small businesses being the targets of 43 percent of attacks.
Facing new challenges
The survey found that small businesses are facing new tech challenges and are struggling to adapt. 49 percent of respondents said they find it hard to stay ahead of changes. Obtaining support is also a problem, with 32 percent relying on a family member or "close friend" to get information on technology. 26 percent pay for ongoing services from a small local computer specialist.
Graph from a Microsoft study into digital transformation amongst small businesses
Graph from a Microsoft study into digital transformation amongst small businesses
Microsoft
This exposes a common theme amongst small business owners. The need for personal, human interactions is still high, even though firms are transforming into digital businesses. 51 percent said in-person talks are still their most used communication method, followed by email and text.
"In navigating the demands of both budget and technological readiness, over 30 percent of small business respondents said they are likely to turn to familiar sources (a family or close friend) for technology guidance or help with their computers, email or software," said Microsoft. "With 26% of respondents stating they have a formal relationship with a support or service establishment, small businesses said comfortable, human interaction was key in how they sought help."
Looking ahead
The challenges associated with digital transformation are clearly putting new pressures on small business owners. The study found that optimism remains high though, with many firms planning an expansion in 2018. 90 percent said they'll hire 1 or 2 employees next year and 38 percent intend to launch a new product or service offering.
Graph from a Microsoft study into digital transformation amongst small businesses
Graph from a Microsoft study into digital transformation amongst small businesses
Microsoft
Successfully implementing a digital strategy could allow a small business to position itself as the local leader in its sector. Effective use of new technologies can unlock new opportunities and give employees more time to focus on their main work. Operators evidently need more support as they introduce new technologies though, ensuring that feelings of frustration and disillusion don't set in.
More about digital transformation, digital disruption, Cybersecurity, Cyberattacks, Small businesses