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Small businesses helpless in the face of cybercrime

Small businesses in the UK are woefully unprepared for an IT security breach despite relying increasingly on mobile devices and storing critical information on computers, according to new study by Kaspersky Lab. A third (31 per cent) says they would not know what to do if they had an IT security breach tomorrow, four in ten say they would struggle to recover all data lost and a quarter admit they would be unable to recover any. Most small firms are convinced a cyber-attack would simply never happen to them.

The study of micro firms found that two-thirds (68 per cent) have internet-connected laptops and half allow IT-enabled mobile and remote working. Vital business data including confidential customer, supplier and financial records as well as IP is stored and processed on computers.

An overwhelming 82 per cent say they are not a target for attack because they're too small or don't have anything worth stealing. However, the threat to smaller firms is significant and real. According to the Federation of Small Business, 41 per cent of small firms were hit by cybercrime in 2013, with one in ten the victim of online fraud and one in five affected by a computer virus.

"While it is encouraging to see the extent to which micro firms are embracing the latest technologies, this must go hand in hand with a strong approach to internet security," said Kirill Slavin, UK MD at Kaspersky Lab. "One in ten of those surveyed admitted that an IT security breach would probably cost them their business. This must be addressed, and quickly. Micro firms don't have to become IT security experts. Most of the time it's the IT equivalent of remembering to lock all the doors and windows when you go out, make sure you have some additional protection and not to leave valuables where others can easily see and get to them."

Alex Grant, Barclays, Managing Director of Fraud Prevention, commented: "Cyber-fraud affects one in eight small businesses every year with fraud losses to SMEs estimated at nearly GBP20bn. Criminals try to steal goods and the business identity through letters, a phone call, or via email. Increasingly, cybercrime is a principal priority risk for businesses. Typical scams include opportunities to acquire new customers who you supply but never receive payment from, or to purchase items from new suppliers that never deliver after having been paid. Fraud can happen to any type of business in many different ways, impacting their revenue, reputation and the long-term health of the business, with no business being too small to be targeted. The most important investment a business can make is to take the time to identify where they may be at risk from fraud and reduce those risks where possible to stay in control."
 

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