SMEs are unfairly carrying the burden of cyber-crime in an increasingly vulnerable digital economy.
Cyber-crime costs small businesses disproportionately more than big businesses when adjusted for organisational size, and currently the responsibility largely falls on small businesses to protect themselves.
Smaller firms are collectively attacked seven million times per year, costing the UK economy an estimated £5.26 billion, according to a report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
Despite the vast majority of small firms (93%) taking steps to protect their business from digital threats, two thirds (66%) have been a victim of cyber-crime in the last two years. Over that period, those affected have been victims on four occasions on average, costing each business almost £3000 in total.
FSB is calling for more support to be given to those smaller firms least able to bear the burden of the increasing global cyber threat.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “The digital economy is vital to small businesses - presenting a huge opportunity to reach new markets and customers - but these benefits are matched by the risk of opportunities for criminals to attack businesses.
“Small firms take their cyber security responsibility very seriously but often they are the least able to bear the cost of doing so. Smaller businesses have limited resources, time and expertise to deal with ever-evolving and increasing digital attacks.
“We’re calling on Government, larger businesses, individuals and providers to take part in a joint effort to tackle cyber-crime and improve business resilience.”
The types of cyber-crime most commonly affecting small businesses are phishing emails (49%), spear phishing emails (37%), and malware attacks (29%).