Procurement · 1 March 2018

Small businesses need to address the “perception gap” between how they view cyber crime and the real-world threat

Small businesses have a perception gap when it comes to cyber attacks.
Small businesses have a perception gap when it comes to cyber attacks.

Small businesses have a perception gap when it comes to cyber attacks.[/caption]There is a growing perception gap between how the UK’s SMEs view cybercrime and the reality of the threat, with the average cost of a single breach reaching £1,570.

This is according to a new report from the government’s Cyber Aware campaign, which calls for the small business community to speak with one voice when it comes to educating the public on cyber security and tacking this “perception gap”.

The report found that there is the widespread belief that cyber crime isn’t “real crime”, and many people believe there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. According to Cyber Aware, this leads to the threat being underestimated, when in reality the threat is very real.

There were 1.6m victims of bank and credit account fraud last year, and one in eight of these victims were not fully reimbursed for their losses.

In addition, between October 2016 and September 2017, the Crime Survey for England and Wales recorded 1.5m computer misuse offences, such as malware attacks and hacking – so suffice to say, it is a very real problem, with real-world consequences.

Despite this, only 31 per cent of businesses say that cyber security is a very high priority for senior management, and only seven per cent of micro businesses have incident management processes in place to tackle a breach if one were to happen.

Cyber Aware is hoping to raise cyber awareness by encouraging businesses to educate staff and customers about the risks of using the internet, and the easy measures to protect against them. The campaign is working with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to ensure the most effective advice is shared.

The Minister for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, said: “Cyber crime has been identified as one of the biggest criminal threats to British business and I am determined to help our businesses disrupt this illegal activity and protect the public.

“The government is already taking world-leading action to tackle the threat of cyber crime and is investing £1.9bn to bolster our cyber security.

“Raising cyber awareness is important if we are to take advantage of investment in capability currently taking place by both the public and private sector.”

According to a recent study by Zurich, 49 per cent of SMEs plan to spend less than £1,000 on cyber security, despite the risks they are facing. The study found that 16 per cent of small business had fallen victim to a cyber attack over a 12-month period, with those in London the worst affected – 23 per cent of businesses in London had suffered a breach in the same time period.

More than a fifth (21 per cent) of affected businesses said attacks had cost them over £10,000, and 11 per cent reported costs of more than £50,000.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Business Advice. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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