The percentage of small businesses reporting cyberattacks tripled over the last four years according to a new report from property-casualty insurer Travelers.

The 2019 Travelers Risk Index, released this week, found 12% of small businesses reported attacks, up from 4% in 2015.

Source: 2019 Travelers Risk Index.

Cyberattacks doubled among medium-sized companies, from 10% in 2015 to 20% in 2019, while 33% of large firms report attacks, up from 19%.

For the first time since Travelers began publishing the risk index in 2014, cyberattacks are now the top concern for U.S. businesses.

Of the 1,200 business leaders who participated in the survey, 55% said they worry some or a great deal about cybersecurity risks.

Other top concerns include rising medical costs (54%), employee benefit costs (53%), job hiring and retention (46%), and legal liability (44%).

Targets

The index shows small businesses are targeted for cyberattacks more often than medium-sized and large businesses.

As more companies grow concerned with cyber threats, a higher percentage of businesses across nearly every industry reported taking proactive steps to guard against risks, the index found.

Still, Travelers reports, a sizable percentage of businesses have not taken preventative steps against cyberattacks.

A sizable percentage of businesses have not taken preventative steps against cyberattacks.

The index found that:

  • 51% of businesses are purchasing a cyber insurance policy, up from 39% last year
  • 47% of businesses are creating a business continuity plan, up from 38% last year
  • 49% of businesses are taking a cyberrisk assessment, up from 45%, and 41% of their vendors are taking the assessment, up from 37%
  • 74% of businesses are updating computer passwords, up from 71%

Breaches

The top cyber-related business concerns are a security breach and unauthorized access to financial records and accounts.

Emerging concerns include extortion and demands for ransomware, and social engineering scams.

Unfortunately, the index says the number of businesses reporting a breach continues to rise.

"One cyberattack can put a company out of businesses."

Travelers' Tim Francis

"The [index] shows that more businesses are taking steps to prevent a cyberattack, but it's still alarming that nearly half don't have the proper insurance coverage," said Tim Francis, enterprise cyber lead at Travelers.

"One cyberattack can put a company out of business.

"Taking the threat seriously and implementing a risk-management program that addresses possible exposures can help a company not only avoid an attack, but also recover from one as quickly as possible."

Asset Protection

More than half the business leaders surveyed—54%—believe it's inevitable their company will be a victim of a data breach or cyber attack.

"The cost of a single breach to a small business can easily reach a substantial amount of money, on top of the time it takes to restore the business," Francis said.

CBIA's first-ever Cybersecurity Survey of Connecticut Businesses last year showed that almost one-fourth of Connecticut businesses were victims of data breaches or cyber attacks in 2016 and 2017.

The survey results showed a broad lack of awareness for identifying threats, as well as understanding how to prepare, manage, and respond to them.