UK SME cyber threat concerns on the rise in last 12 months as a quarter admit to being breached

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Against a challenging economic backdrop and well publicised cyber-attacks, concerns about cyber threats amongst UK small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) have risen significantly in the last year as they consider the impact on brand, reputation and revenue.
 
According to new research, nearly four in ten (38%) are more worried about cyber security threats than a year ago, with over a quarter of businesses admitting to some form of security breach.

Research commissioned by Sharp Europe - a major provider of business technology products and services to SMEs across Europe, found that around one third of the businesses had their operations impacted by a cyber security breach. These breaches included phishing (31%), malware (30%), data loss (30%), and computer virus attack (25%). 
  
In addition, nearly a quarter have been subject to password attacks (24%) and cloud security issues (23%). Yet nearly two thirds (61%) lack confidence in their businesses’ ability to deal with and mitigate security risks. Given this, surprisingly three out of five (60%) of UK small businesses say their IT security budget will not be increased this year.
  
The pan-European research surveyed 5,770 professionals responsible for purchasing IT in their SMEs, on confidence in IT security capabilities and barriers to IT security investment over the next 12 months. It found that losing money, decreased customer confidence, and negative impact on the brand are the top business concerns when it comes to the impact of an IT security breach.  
  
Colin Blumenthal, Vice President, IT Services at Sharp Europe, comments: 
“Businesses operate in a complex digital environment, which poses increasing IT security challenges for companies of all sizes. For smaller businesses, without large IT resources, the risks can feel even more daunting. Threats are constantly changing– and trying to identify and prevent them all can leave those in charge feeling concerned, confused and frustrated.” 
  
“Every business, regardless of size, should do everything they reasonably can to protect their data and ensure their connectivity, whether through networks or devices, is as secure as possible. Seeking expert advice can help ensure the right IT security decisions are being made, a holistic security view is being taken, and that solutions are always up to date.”
  
Concern is being amplified by issues such as the rise of hybrid working and employees using their own devices. Worryingly, only 53% of SMEs in UK say they have encryption in place, and nearly two thirds (58%) have a strong password policy. 

Research

The research was conducted by Censuswide in Q1 2023 and responded to by 5,770 IT decision makers and people responsible for purchasing IT within SMEs, from 11 countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

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