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updated: 9/21/2015 10:24 AM

Survey: Small businesses take action on cyber security

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  • The number of small businesses that are taking extra precautions against cyber crime and hackers has increased, according to a survey from Glenview-based SurePayroll.

      The number of small businesses that are taking extra precautions against cyber crime and hackers has increased, according to a survey from Glenview-based SurePayroll.

 
By Rich Klicki

If there's one fear that universally keeps business owners up at night, it the fear of being hacked.

There's no argument that cybercrime is a serious global problem, and it's the one global problem that's also at the forefront of Main Street businesses, according to online payroll services provider SurePayroll.

The Glenview-based company's monthly Small Business Scorecard optimism survey recently found 60 percent of small business owners are concerned enough about cybercrime to take extra precautions assuring their data is secure. That number is up from 56 percent a year ago.

"It tells you just how serious this issue has become for business owners, regardless of size," said SurePayroll General Manager Andy Roe.

"It's not just the big chains that are focused on security right now. Small business owners understand that any sort of breach or lack of confidence when it comes to online security could have a big impact," he added.

SurePayroll surveys 5,000 small businesses nationwide for its monthly Scorecard. A total of 325 responded to this survey, Roe said, with the average business size of 10 or fewer employees.

Among the types of measures small companies are using to protect their information are firewalls, off-site protected servers, multi-factor authentication, encrypted emails and multiple layers of password protection, Roe said.

An overwhelming majority of respondents -- 85 percent -- said they would be willing to inconvenience customers if it meant better protecting their online security when using the company's products, services or websites.

Roe points out that while those security measures may be considered an "inconvenience," most customers likely wouldn't notice it.

"Often customers are not even aware of the cyber security measures in place," he said.

"However, I think what the survey showed us is just how seriously small business owners are taking online security," he added. "So if they have to make customers spend some extra time on a more complex password, or a multi-factor authentication to log in to a web service, they're willing to do so."

Roe notes that while small business owners do not have the resources to develop their own secure systems or run their own IT department, many are more comfortable with using secure online third-party services to maintain security and improve the way they do business.

"According to our data, 50 percent are using online services to streamline business," he said. "So for instance, when it comes to payroll and employee data, small businesses using a payroll service are paying a very reasonable subscription cost to help keep their data protected and backed up by the service.

"By using an outside service, they're taking advantage of that sophistication and capability, while paying a modest price for it."

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