Almost one in six (16%) SMEs have fallen victim to a cyber attack in the last 12 months, equating to more than 875,000 nationwide, according to the findings of a study conducted by Zurich. Businesses in London are the worst affected with almost a quarter (23%) reporting that they have suffered a breach within this period.
The SME Risk Index found that, of businesses that were affected, more than a fifth (21%) reported that it cost them over £10,000 and one in ten (11%) said that it cost more than £50,000.
Yet, despite the volume of attacks and potential losses, the survey of over 1,000 UK SMEs showed that business leaders are not committing to investing significantly in cyber security in the coming year. Almost half (49%) of SMEs admitted that they plan to spend £1,000 or less on their cyber defences in the next 12 months, while almost a quarter (22%) don’t even know how much they will spend.
The results show that for businesses of all sizes robustness of cyber security defences is now a genuine concern for winning and maintaining business contracts. A quarter (25%) of medium sized businesses (between 50 and 249 employees), reported that they have been directly asked by a current or prospective customer about what cyber security measures they have in place. This was also true of one in ten (11%) small businesses (less than 50 employees).
As a result, business leaders are reporting that strong cyber security is providing an opportunity to stand out from competitors with as many as one in 20 (5%) claiming to have gained an advantage over a competitor because of stronger cyber security credentials.
Small businesses are not exempt from the disruptions that all organizations face, and the latest Horizon Scan Report published by the Business Continuity Institute highlights that organizations of all sizes generally share the same concerns.
Paul Tombs, Head of SME Proposition at Zurich, comments: “While recent cyber attacks have highlighted the importance of cyber security for some of the world’s biggest companies, it’s important to remember that small and medium sized businesses need to protect themselves too. The results suggest that SMEs are not yet heeding the warnings provided by large attacks on global businesses.
“While the rate of attacks on SMEs is troubling, it also shows that there is an opportunity for businesses with the correct safeguards and procedures in place to leverage this as a strength and gain an advantage.”