Cyber attacks hit 1.4m British SMEs last year

It’s not just the major retailers that need to protect themselves: new research finds 1.4 million British small businesses were affected by a cyber attack or significant security incident last year.

Cyber insurance firm Gallagher found the attacks and incidents had cost the UK economy £8.8 billion overall, with the average attack hitting each SME with a £6,500 cost to deal with.

READ MORE: Puma’s website hit by malware which “skims” credit card details and addresses

The usual definition of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is any business with fewer than 250 employees. There were 5.7 million SMEs in the UK in 2018, which was over 99 per cent of all businesses.

Of that amount, retail makes up around 10 per cent of SMEs, with around 556,000 operating in the UK at the end of 2018.

Crisis incidents, which Gallagher said includes cyber attacks, extortion, industrial espionage and terrorism affected 24 per cent of the surveyed businesses in the last year, up five per cent from 2017.

Financial services were hit the most, with 27 per cent saying they had suffered an attack.

“When it comes to crises, cyber and IT security clearly represent a “soft underbelly” of businesses that together account for more than 99 percent of private sector firms,” said Gallagher managing director of crisis management Paul Bassett.

“Alongside regularly reviewing their crisis preparedness, response plans and forms of protection, such as insurance, it is critical UK SMEs also assess their ability to survive in the event of a major crisis incident when the risk of serious disruption and protracted recovery process is very real.”

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