As COVID-19 drives more Americans to turn to virtual or digital business interactions, cybercriminals have found fertile hunting ground for new opportunities to exploit weaknesses. According to a new Nationwide Agent Authority survey, many American consumers and businesses are dangerously underprepared to defend against common and evolving cyberthreats.  

“Our survey highlights concerning vulnerabilities for consumers and small business owners, many of whom may be more focused on keeping their family or business afloat in tough times, as opposed to guarding against cybersecurity threats,” said Catherine Rudow, Vice President of Cyber Insurance for Nationwide. “It’s encouraging that middle market business owners appear to be more attune to risks and are proactively preparing their defense.”  

Nationwide’s research uncovered four themes: 

  • Small business owners are underprepared and overconfident when it comes to cybercrimes.  
  • Middle market business owners have a better handle on cyberthreats.
  • Consumers underestimate their cyber risk exposure.
  • Small business owners don’t recognize cyber vulnerabilities.

Though nearly half of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, only 37% of small business owners reported believing they are at risk to fall victim to a cyberattack. Alarmingly, about one-third also said they are not confident they could recover if their business was attacked.  

Only 17% of small business owners, or fewer than 1 in 5, say they have cyber liability insurance, and half (53%) say they do not offer cybersecurity training to their employees  

Middle market business owners have firmer cyber-footing 

Nationwide’s research shows that middle market businesses, which typically have more sophisticated operations, have a greater awareness and are more prepared for cyberthreats compared to small businesses. Seven in 10 (70%) middle market business owners are concerned about a cyberattack, and 79% feel they are well prepared to address an attack. They are also confident in their ability to recover from an attack (80%). 

This confidence may be warranted as they are more likely than small business owners to have taken key security precautions, including purchasing cybersecurity insurance (71%).