Australians more savvy about cyber security

More Australians look out for signs of security features such as SSL encryption even as they remain sceptical of the data protection capabilities of small businesses

Two out of three Australians are concerned about cyber security, while almost a quarter have fallen prey to a data breach or online security threat, according to new research by GoDaddy.

The good news is that Australians are also becoming more aware of cyber security and are taking proactive steps to understand and mitigate their risks online, with 60% of respondents knowing what to look for when determining whether a site is secure.

Nearly eight out of 10 said they look for the security lock symbol in their web browsers to determine whether a site is indeed secure, followed by looking for a URL containing “https” (65%), and looking at the contact details of the business (56%).

Young people aged between 18 and 29 appeared to be the most confident in protecting themselves online, with 70% claiming to know what to look for when visiting a website. Baby boomers felt the least confident, with just over half knowing what to look for.

Two-thirds (64%) of the Australians surveyed said they would refrain from using a website if the company or brand had already been compromised by an online security threat or data hack, sending a strong message to the business community to ensure their security policies and systems are up to date.

With many Australians concerned about online security, more than half of respondents (59%) have put in place safeguards to protect their personal data and assets.

“It’s encouraging to see that so many Australians are both aware of the importance of their online security and understand what to look for, while actively implementing measures to help minimise their online vulnerabilities,” said Jill Schoolenberg, regional president for Australia, Canada and Latin America at GoDaddy. “This increased awareness, along with simple defences and affordable tools, helps to create a safer and more inclusive online community.”

Consumer confidence in a company’s cyber security practices, or the lack thereof, can make or break a business. Among industries, the banking and financial sector appeared to have gained the most consumer confidence when it comes to protecting data against cyber threats.

This was followed by IT (14%) and government (10%), with the worst performing sectors – retail (2%), construction (1%) and hospitality (0%) – having the greatest number of small businesses in Australia.

Read more about cyber security in Australia

“With more Aussies becoming cyber aware, small businesses should evaluate their own online security policies to help ensure their websites meet current cyber security requirements or risk losing customers,” said Schoolenberg. “The good news is that today, it is easier to create secure online experiences for your customers and help protect their data with more tools available.”

Australia is in the midst of charting its next cyber security strategy, following an earlier A$230m blueprint laid out in 2016 to foster a safer cyber space for Australians.

In a discussion paper on Australia’s 2020 cyber security strategy, which is being led by an industry panel, minister for home affairs Peter Dutton said that despite making strong progress on the goals set in 2016, the threat environment has changed significantly.

“We need to adapt our approach to improve the security of business and the community,” he said, noting that cyber security incidents have cost Australian businesses an estimated A$29bn a year, while cyber crime affected nearly one in three Australian adults in 2018.

Read more on Security policy and user awareness

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