Cosmic Cocktails boss Clint Gurney remembers all too well the panic he felt when he realised his business website had disappeared from the internet. “I put in cosmiccocktails.com.au and I went, ‘Holy crap, where are we?’,” he says. “That’s just a feeling that you do not want to have. It’s like someone just kicked you in the guts.” In a haze of disbelief, Gurney kept searching frantically. But the site wasn’t there. It had been taken down by hackers almost six months earlier. The hack devastated the business. “We had nothing in our diary for the next 12 months, which was just unheard of,” Gurney says. “We closed the business for two months. I had to put off all my staff,
and just figure out what the hell we were going to do.”
Being attacked by cyber criminals wasn’t on Gurney’s radar – and he’s not alone. Small businesses are the target of 43 per cent of all cyber crimes in Australia, but most businesses are ill-equipped for an attack. “They don’t know what they don’t know,” says WA AustCyber Innovation Hub at ECU director Dr Ian Martinus. “From my experience, dealing with small business in this state, particularly over the last 20 years, [they’re] not very prepared at all.”
ECU Security Research Institute (ECUSRI) director Professor Craig Valli agrees. “They’re one of the most attacked places, but of course they don’t have the expertise or knowledge to actually help protect themselves,” he says. Valli adds many small business owners also assume they won’t be targeted, without realising cyber criminals could be after money or trade secrets, or use their business as a stepping stone to get to their larger customers.