WASHINGTON — In the shadow of this week’s breach of federal employee data bases, there is another, perhaps more unnerving problem afoot: American small businesses are at a greater risk of hacking than the big dogs.
A recent Duke University study found that about 85 percent of businesses employing fewer than 1,000 employees say they were the victims of a hacking. That compares to about 60 percent of large companies. The national average for all businesses is 80 percent.
“This is not just a small spam hack,” survey director John Graham explained, “this is a serious attempt to steal data or to make public data that should otherwise be kept private.”
Graham also noted that there is a direct correlation between the increased risk of a hacking and data breach prevention efforts.
“The problem is that small and medium-sized businesses have not put up the defenses that some of the large companies have,” said Graham.
The results from the survey showed that smaller companies are only about half as likely as larger firms to test their own data security, to hire new data security staff or to require data security training for employees.
“This is not just the U.S.,” Graham added. “In fact, 85 percent of companies around the world say they have been hacked.”
And that number could be even higher, since many victims don’t even know that they have been breached.
WTOP’s Dennis Foley contributed to this report.
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