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Small Businesses Focus on Digital Literacy

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 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.

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.

[ Also Visit: Tech-Wise Knowledge Center for SMBs ]

“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.”

JZ Analytics conducted the small business survey from September 27–29, 2012. It surveyed 1,015 U.S. small businesses (less than 250 employees) across the United States. The survey results were announced Wednesday, Oct. 31.

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