Security survey cause for alarm
Southern Cross Protection partnered with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to conduct an Australian-first study into the security concerns of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) across Australia… and the findings indicate some worrying attitudes.
The Southern Cross Protection Security Confidence Index provides insight into the security-related concerns and issues facing SME businesses nationwide. The report is designed to assist the security industry to improve its services to SME business owners.
This research was conducted as part of the quarterly ACCI Survey of Investor Confidence, undertaken through the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s member associations. The survey, which covered the three months to March 2011, attracted 347 respondents.
‘Business security’, the survey indicates, is not a key concern of Australian SMEs. That is, 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:
- 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 (first was most important). Higher priorities included staff, revenue, expenses, business continuity and information systems.
- More than one-third of respondents say that as a business owner, investing money in security is not important.
- An alarming 73 percent of respondents admit to low-to-average knowledge when it comes to securing their business premises and information systems.
With varying levels of knowledge on the subject of security, small business owners are often either unaware of the security risks they face, or confused about the most appropriate and cost-effective security service options available for their business.
- Most respondents (63.7 percent) have suffered security breaches to their business, including (but not limited to): vandalism, theft of physical assets and theft of business intellectual property.
- More than one-third of respondents have suffered theft of physical assets.
- Sixty percent of SMEs have suffered damages of up to $100,000 due to security breaches made against their business.
The Southern Cross Protection Security Confidence Index reveals a significant security risk currently posed to small business owners across Australia. With more than one-third maintaining security is not important to their business, an alarming 60 percent have suffered security breaches, resulting in damages of up to $100,000 to their businesses.
It’s clear that we must raise the level of security awareness among small business owners – so often their livelihoods and those of their families are at stake.
Security organisations, government, chambers of commerce and the wider business community have a significant role to play:
- Setting the standard: Providing SMEs with a high level of information and education around security issues is a crucial step to minimise security risks. 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.
- 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 any single small business. There also exists opportunities for local government to adopt similar strategies in defined CBD precincts, industrial areas and ‘incubation’ areas to encourage SMEs to grow and flourish.
- Education: Improvements to the level of education SMEs receive around business security are 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.
- 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.