Physical theft bigger threat than IP theft to small businesses: Report

A new report reveals 60% of small business owners have suffered a security breach in the last 12 months, with physical theft far more common than vandalism or IP theft.


The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry partnered with security patrol network Southern Cross Protection to conduct a survey of 347 SMEs.


The SXP Security Confidence Index reveals 60% of small business owners have suffered a security breach, with 47% of respondents reporting losses of up to $20,000.


A further 10.1% have suffered losses between $20,000 and $100,000, and 3% have dealt with losses of more than $100,000.

According to the report, 36.4% identify the most common cause for financial loss as theft of physical assets. This compares with 18.8% who have been victim to malicious damage such as vandalism, while 8.5% have experienced IP theft.


Despite the findings, one third of small business owners believe that investing in security is not important to them, while 73% admit to having little knowledge of security issues.


“Ensuring the physical elements of a business, such as property, staff and information, are adequately protected against possible threats is not seen as a critical factor to the business owners surveyed,” the report states.


“Business security is low on the list of priorities for Australian small business owners, ranking fifth on a list of six critical factors in running a business… Other factors included staff, revenue, expenses, business continuity and information systems.”


Patrick Bourke, Southern Cross Protection managing director, says the results are alarming, particularly as many of the security issues detailed in the report are avoidable.

“In many instances, these losses and damage could be avoided through greater consultation with the security industry and stronger security measures deployed,” he says.

Bourke identifies four key steps that need to be taken:


  1. Setting the standard. Providing SMEs with a high level of information and education around security issues is crucial.

    The Australian security industry will need to work closely with government and business leaders to shape policy that sets a clear standard of security provision for SMEs.

  2. Group purchasing. To avoid SMEs making a poor trade-off between security and risk, there is an opportunity for Chambers of Commerce to offer group purchasing options and shared services, keeping costs affordable for small businesses.

    There also exists opportunities for local governments to adopt similar strategies in defined CBD, industrial areas and incubation areas.

  3. Education. Improvements to the level of education SMEs receive around business security is essential, particularly preventative strategies that address opportunistic criminal activity.

    A collaborative effort between police, security providers and local business communities will further heighten effective preventative security provision.

  4. Read all about it. Meaningful and accessible literature, outlining a range of security options at affordable costs, is needed to reinforce efforts in SME security provision.


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