Cybersecurity threatens Australian family businesses

All businesses face largely the same challenges, with the ever-present quest for expansion put to the test by the adoption of new technology.


This journey into new digital realms brings its own challenges, and while most companies are coping to some extent, Ernst & Young (EY) discovered that family-owned businesses across Australia are struggling with cybersecurity concerns in particular.

The firm found that any technological additions to a business need to be matched by capable security solutions to ensure they can be used effectively without compromising safety.

How significant are these risks?

EY found that globally, a quarter of family businesses are unaware of the risk cybercrime presents to their company. While this statistic is worrying enough on its own, the Australian rate is significantly higher, with 41 per cent of businesses in this category oblivious to the risks present in a world reliant on digital technology.

However, businesses that are aware of the dangers appear to be managing them effectively. Just under a third (32 per cent) of those aware of the risk highlighted its potential impact as low, while 27 per cent believe it could have a medium effect.

Oceania Family Business Leader Ian Burgess believes Australian companies in this category should be making a sustained effort to increase cybersecurity.

“Even with the near-constant news of cyberbreaches, leaks and the resulting financial losses, Australian family businesses seem to be worryingly relaxed about the risk of cyberthreats and potential impact on their business,” he said.

“By their nature, family businesses face some particular increased risks beyond the usual hacking and data breaches, such as social media risks, reputational risks and personal safety concerns.”

It’s not all bad news from EY, however, as the firm believes that once these threats are recognised, family-owned businesses often have an easier time distributing awareness throughout the company and on to future owners.