Hacking, online manipulation and cyber fraud is rarely out of the headlines these days. From election interference to personal details being stolen from major corporations, it’s something that most people are aware of.
Less well known is how much it affects small businesses in the UK. A new report commissioned by encryption experts Appstractor Corporation shows that UK small businesses face five cyberattacks a year.
Increasing threat of cyber attacks
The research highlights the increasing threat of online criminal behaviour affecting small businesses. Under Attack: Assessing the struggle of UK SMEs against cyber criminals shows that many IT decision makers in SMEs feel their company is at greater risk due to inferior software. They say their software fails to match the constantly increasing sophistication of online attacks.
Almost 20% of small businesses in the UK faced up to ten cyber attacks over the last 12 months. A major concern flagged in the report by IT bosses concerns ill-suited encryption software. Generally, security software is designed for either large corporations or for individuals. There is a lack of effective security software designed specifically for the small business sector.
This leads to small business owners feeling that they are less able to protect the company from cyber criminals than larger organisations. Just over 30% of respondents to the survey believe that the small business community in the UK is being left behind in the battle against cyber-crime.
The report’s major findings include:
- 17% of small businesses dealt with at least one cyber-attack over the last year.
- 28% of SMEs were attacked up to three times.
- 32% of SMEs faced between four and five attacks.
- 19% were attacked between six and 10 times.
- 2% were attacked up to 20 times.
Figures like this shows that small and medium businesses in the UK are less able to cope with cyber security threats than larger companies. Paul Rosenthal, founder of Appstractor Corporation says: “Software and platforms are not being effectively designed for them [small businesses], so they have to shoehorn consumer or large enterprise grade solutions into their company which don’t work in small businesses.”
However, another clue to the vulnerability of SMEs in the UK is the prevailing attitude that they are too small for cyber-criminals to target.
US small businesses
US statistics are much the same in terms of cyber-attacks and small businesses. According to the Hiscox small business risk report 2018, 65% of small businesses in the United States fail to take appropriate action after being exposed to an incident.
The research reveals that almost half of the more than 1,000 SMEs asked had dealt with at least one cyber-attack over the last year. It concludes that just over two-thirds of businesses around the world are underprepared for online attacks and small businesses are even more vulnerable as they tend not to have strategies in place to deal with the ensuing damage.
While two-thirds of businesses say that cyber crime is their highest concern for the coming year, only half have a strategy to deal with online security. Just less than a third have simulated hacks and breaches to prepare employees for an event in real life.
James Turner, Managing Director of Turner Little Limited says: “While there is certainly a need for software solutions designed for small businesses, owners, managers and decision makers must also be more vigilant. Small businesses can easily fall into the trap of thinking they’re not a target. This is a dangerous view to take as it leads to complacency concerning encryption and security software.
“The reality is that small businesses are vulnerable. Cyber criminals are targeting SMEs more than ever. Newer techniques, such as automated targeting, are putting small businesses at serious risk of cyber-attack. Small businesses are less likely than large corporations to be able to withstand the repercussions of a breach in security.
“Budgeting is cited as the main barrier to preparing for cyber-attacks. While budget is an understandable concern for small businesses, neglecting to prepare for a security breach could be fatal. Small businesses everywhere should take the necessary steps to understand the risks and protect themselves.”
About Turner Little
Founded in 1998 in Yorkshire, UK, Turner Little is a specialist UK and offshore company formation, banking and corporate services provider. Our services include company formation, UK and offshore banking, asset protection, credit correction/repair, trademarking and trusts. Other services include Internet services, mail forwarding, wills and probate. Turner Little’s vision is to offer the best possible service, together with market leading products.