Gen Z’s Lack of Cybersecurity Knowledge Puts Small Businesses at Risk

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The recent data breaches targeting Optus and Medibank have brought to light the vulnerability of Australian businesses to cyber attacks. Cybersecurity experts have warned that these hacks have left customers of these businesses at risk of identity theft and financial scams.

Small business owners may be putting their businesses in danger by relying on younger family members or employees, particularly those from Generation Z, to manage their cybersecurity. A new survey has found that two-thirds of Australia’s small business owners believe that being tech-savvy equates to having cyber-safety skills. However, this belief is misguided as the survey found that members of Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2010) are among the least cyber-safe in the country.

The survey found that members of Generation Z were most likely to rate cyber security as a low or medium threat to small businesses they owned or were employed in. They also struggled more than other groups to identify and prevent some of the most common cyber attacks faced by small businesses, such as identity theft, malware attacks, and ransomware.

According to the survey, the safest pair of hands in the small business community appear to be those of Generation Xers and upper Millennials in their 30s, who are the most likely group to take cyber security seriously.

Small businesses increasingly targeted

Small businesses in Australia are facing a growing risk of cyberattacks and lack the resources to combat them. A recent survey conducted by 89 Degrees East on behalf of the Council of Small Business Owners Australia (COSBOA) found that two-thirds of small business owners believe that being tech-savvy equates to having cyber-safety skills. However, this belief is misguided as the survey found that members of Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2010) are among the least cyber-safe in the country.

The survey comes in the midst of some of Australia’s worst data breaches, which targeted Optus and Medibank, leaving customers of those businesses vulnerable to identity theft and financial scams. Cybersecurity experts have criticized Australia’s large companies for not taking data security seriously enough.

Academic research also shows that small businesses are increasingly becoming attractive targets for cybercriminals, but lack the resources of larger companies to combat them. In response, COSBOA will roll out its free Cyber Wardens program across the country this year to help small businesses better understand and manage their cyber risks.

It is important for small business owners to understand that relying on a single person, regardless of their age or technical skills, to manage cybersecurity may not be sufficient. It is crucial for small business owners to educate themselves and their staff on cybersecurity best practices and invest in proper security measures to protect their business from cyber threats.

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