Fears of hacking are causing an increasing number of SMEs to abandon having a website, opting instead for other forms of internet presence.
Marketing services provider Sensis surveyed 1,002 SMEs and found that website ownership among these businesses has slumped from 61 per cent in 2016 to 52 per cent this year. Over the same period, fears about hacking jumped sharply, from 69 per cent to 81 per cent.
“Nine in 10 medium-sized businesses have a website but among small businesses, the number dropped 10 points this year and now sits at 50 per cent,” said Sensis digital manager Alice Mentiplay.
“Across the board, only 6 per cent of businesses intend on adding a site this year, indicating that growth has stalled.
However, most of these businesses are not turning their back on e-commerce altogether, with participation on social media and online directories soaring.
Online marketing tools used by SMEs are also reflecting this shift in digital strategy, with those using social media advertising increasing from 34 per cent in 2016 to 48 per cent this year, and digital display advertising climbing from 32 per cent to 45 per cent.
According to Sensis, online sales now make up close to half of all sales for SMEs. In 2017, 45 per cent of sales made by these businesses are online.
It comes after Ty Miller of digital security firm Threat Intelligence told the ABC a new ‘airborne’ threat could cause considerably more damage and losses than the WannaCry ransomware that locked down systems around the world in May this year.
He said the BlueBorne vulnerability could be spread through Bluetooth without people clicking or opening suspect links.
“It is estimated to potentially affect up to eight billion [devices] around the world, and that’s because it’s got the capability to infect Window[s], Linux, Android and iOS devices prior to iOS 10,” Mr Miller was quoted as saying.
In some instances, businesses can be unaware they have already been hacked, with David Cohen of Systemnet recently revealing the story of a real estate agency that had its entire database copied and sent offshore as a the result of a virus that was only discovered by accident.