SMEs at increasing threat of cyber-attacks

Small businesses are being urged to do more to tighten their computer security after research revealed the number of cyber-attacks hitting businesses increased over the last year.

According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), some attacks caused more than £1 million worth of damage.

Computer security can cost a small business up to six per cent of its turnover, it said.

Research showed that:

  • Small businesses are increasingly at risk, with 87 per cent experiencing a security breach last year - up 10 per cent
  • Around 93 per cent of large organisations have also been targeted
  • Companies affected have experienced 50 per cent more attacks than a year ago
  • The average cost of major security breaches for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) was between £35,000 and £65,000
  • Staff-related breaches affected 84 per cent of large businesses, and 57 per cent of small businesses - up 48 per cent from a year ago.

In response, the Government is now offering funding to small and medium sized enterprises who are able to bid for up to £5,000 to improve their computer security.

It will also publish guidance encouraging SMEs to include cyber-security as part of their wider risk management process.

Universities and science minister David Willetts said: "Keeping electronic information safe and secure is vital to a business's bottom line."

"Companies are more at risk than ever of having their cyber security compromised, in particular small businesses, and no sector is immune from attack. But there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent the majority of incidents."