Majority of U.S. Small Businesses Say Digital Literacy Essential Skillset for New Hires
WASHINGTON and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than half of America's small businesses (53 percent) say it is important for new hires to possess a strong proficiency in basic computer skills as it relates to the online safety and security of their business, according to a new survey of 1,015 U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Symantec. (The full survey is available at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/resources/)
The survey – which also shows 87 percent of small businesses have one or more employees who use the Internet for daily operations – has been released in conjunction with National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
In addition to the month-long awareness initiative, NCSA is working with the National Cybersecurity Education Council (NCEC) to formally institute and promote cyber security education programs in K-12 schools, higher education, and career and technical education environments nationwide. This joint effort has included an extensive strategic planning process to identify areas where consensus can be achieved to begin developing a cyber-capable workforce and digital citizenry that is strong and savvy in cybersecurity. (http://www.staysafeonline.org/ncec/)
Integrating cyber education into the national curriculum is important to America's workforce. The survey shows SMBs take into account one's digital literacy skills when making hiring decisions. Over half of SMBs surveyed believe a good online safety posture is essential for new hires in the following ways:
- Ethical Use of Technology: Three-fifths (59 percent) of SMBs say knowing the proper use of email, social networks, and engagement online is essential (38 percent) or important (21 percent) to the safety and security of their business.
- Understanding Privacy Protection Measures: Fifty-six percent of SMBs say it is essential (41 percent) or important (15 percent) for new hires to understand protecting the privacy of information.
- Internet Security Practices: Fifty-eight percent of SMBs say it is essential (38 percent) or important (20 percent) for new hires to know Internet security practices like password protection measures, identifying safe websites, avoiding phishing and other scams.
- Knowing the Importance of Protecting Intellectual Property: Fifty-five percent of SMBs say it is essential (40 percent) or important (15 percent) for new hires to have basic skills and knowledge around how to safeguard intellectual property.
Aside from bringing on new hires who posses basic online safety skills, U.S. small businesses could be operating under the assumption that their existing employees know how to stay safe online. Seventy-percent of SMB owners/operators say they do not provide online safety training for employees.
"Small businesses are expressing a strong need for employees with basic skills and knowledge about how to use technology safely, securely, ethically and productively," said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. "Given the role of small businesses in our economy, it's so important to integrate cybersecurity training into all education levels – from K-life. SMBs should also provide ongoing training to employees to be sure skills are reinforced and new skills are developed as the technology changes."
"Small businesses are a driving force of our economy, and new technologies and online services are becoming an everyday part of how SMBs run their businesses," said Brian Burch, vice president of Americas Marketing for SMB, Symantec. "According to Symantec's research, SMBs have become a key target for cybercriminals and that trend is bound to continue. Small business owners and employees must do a better job not only becoming better educated on cybersecurity, but also better at implementing technologies to protect themselves and the information that fuels their businesses."
SMBs should ensure that both current employees and new hires thoroughly understand ways to increase online safety and security. These simple tips can help aid that process: