It is no surprise that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are also vulnerable to cyber crimes that have been on the rise exponentially in recent years in most countries. When large enterprises having both resources and knowledge are finding it hard to cope with the problem, the state of the MSMEs does not need any elaboration. The findings of a survey, conducted by a consultancy firm and unveiled at a campaign launched by the SME Foundation recently, have only highlighted the helplessness of the MSMEs in the face of rising incidence of cyber crimes.
The findings paint a bleak picture to say the least. That 92.3 per cent of MSMEs are failing to fight cyber crimes is costing these businesses financially. The survey tells us that the MSME entrepreneurs have little knowledge to recognise cyber threats and hence are not able to initiate counter measures to address these threats. About 500 entrepreneurs from Dhaka, Chattogram, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Cox's Bazar, Bogura and Jashore districts took part in the survey conducted from June to September, 2022, with about half the respondents residing in non-urban areas. The typical cases of cyber security incidents include ransomware, malware, phishing and spam. Ransomware is particularly damaging since it is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. This is a form of digital blackmail. Phishing involves sending emails as if from reputable companies that hoodwinks recipients into revealing personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, which are then used to make purchases online or gaining unlawful access to emails or financial details of recipients.
Needless to say, as we have entered into the digital era, entrepreneurs need to keep themselves abreast of these developments. But as we now see, they are ill equipped to do so and falling victim to various types of online threats and incurring considerable business losses. As the study has shown, some 300,000 MSME entrepreneurs are currently engaged in e-commerce, of which nearly 80 per cent are women entrepreneurs. Women are particularly vulnerable online. Cyber crime is a growing threat and this is apparent from the fact that Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) receives over 600 complaints of cyber-related every month. Of course, a lot of incidents do not get reported so the true size of the problem cannot readily be assessed. Again, we learn that less than 22 per cent of cyber-victims submitted complaints to law enforcement agencies primarily because the majority of people have no knowledge about how to make a formal complaint.
With the advent of COVID 19, a large portion of MSME business houses entered the e-commerce age to keep businesses afloat. Hence the question of being able to identify the cyber security threat is the key to finding solutions for entrepreneurs. The issue of cyber-policing needs to be a nationwide effort and authorities need to invest in fighting this new type of crime. The campaign is designed to reach one million MSME owners so that they are better able to handle cyber threats and take preventive measures. Although the government has started changing the school curriculum so that children may start gaining knowledge on 'coding' from an early age, more needs to be done to help MSME entrepreneurs.