SMEs need to be more attentive to online security

The UK government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign has found that  as many as 66% of small companies don’t pay sufficient attention to their online security, leaving their businesses and assets vulnerable, with only 16% reporting that improving cyber security was a number one priority.

In a survey, when quizzed if they believe in some of the most common misconceptions about keeping a business secure online more than three quarters of SMEs were led astray by at least one.

These myths include the idea that only companies that take payments online are at risk of cyber crime, with more than a quarter of companies believing in this falsehood.

22% even erroneously believe that SMEs are not a target for hackers.

In actual fact, small firms are at their highest risk ever as they typically hold more data than the average consumer but don’t typically have any additional professional measures to protect their business data.

In 2014, one third of SMEs suffered a cyber attack from external sources.

This lack of comprehension of the risks posed by online threats means that most small firms are vulnerable to data theft, with the consequences including loss of customers and damage to reputation.

The UK government information Security Breaches Survey also found that the average cost of the worst breach of security was between £65,000 and £115,000 and can mean that a business is put out of commission for more than a week.

As many as 24% of SMEs said that online security was too costly and 22% admitted that they had no idea where to start.

Minister for culture and the digital economy Ed Vaizey says:

“Small and medium-sized firms are a key part of our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and secure a brighter future for Britain, and many are reaping the rewards from going digital and operating online.

“However, this new research shows businesses can do more to understand and respond to cyber threats.”

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses adds:

“We know from our own research that in the future small businesses expect to become much more dependent on web based tools. We also know that, as firms’ reliance on tools like cloud computing increases, they also become more aware of the threats these services can pose.

“For example, nearly a third of businesses we questioned (61 per cent) were worried about the threat of data theft or loss. We need to give these businesses the knowledge and tools they require to prevent this from happening, and so help the continued take-up of these productivity-enhancing technologies.”


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Words: Peter Cribley

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