Would it surprise you to learn that more than half of SMEs in the UK alone have been victims of cyber-attacks in the last year, almost double the figures experienced in 2020? The alarming note is that 2020 was a year destined to experience this with the dramatic shift forced upon by the global pandemic and working remotely – but to experience double the figures years after we have supposed to have learned from that critical time?
Ignoring the Call
18% of UK SMEs readily admit that their exposure came because they are not protected by adequate cybersecurity software, with an average single cyber-attack costing their company up to £4,200. As well as this, 5% of businesses have no idea if they even have protection and only 28% are aware of the government’s Cyber Essentials scheme.
The invasion of Ukraine and increased geo-political tension have been a leading cause of increased cyber-attack activity, with calls upon the UK government to place awareness of current initiatives as a top priority to support the delivery of localised cybersecurity skills.
Over a third of UK businesses now support the hybrid working model, with growing dependence on digital technology for remote working and online transactions – leading to even bigger risk exposure. 8% of UK SME business leaders currently see cybersecurity as a priority. Now is not a time for complacency.
To ensure further SMEs are protected from online attacks, mobile giant Vodafone has led a call to the government to raise more awareness and take action, including providing required funding for targeted Cyber-Safe awareness campaigns for SMEs.
The mobile provider outlined a significant and detrimental impact of a cyber-attack on a small business in 2022 to the tune of £3,230 per attack. In the small time since that figure has grown to £4,200 – a consequence that many SMEs would struggle to recover from.
These findings reflect a lack of adequate skill and information required to provide small business owners with sufficient protection. Whilst progress made by the government has been welcomed – with the establishment of nine regional Cyber Resilience Centres – it is very clear that SMEs need further convincing that investment into cybersecurity is top of the business agenda – especially during a cost-of-living crisis when they are at their most vulnerable.
Today’s digital economy highlights an opportunity for small firms to reach wider markets and customers, but with challenges in attaining these benefits. Internet service providers need to take on more responsibility in cyber security, along with software vendors, hardware developers and banks and financial intermediaries. They are best placed with resources to implement the most effective measures.