BY Itrat Bashir

Small businesses in the United Kingdom are at risk from cyber crime by not putting adequate protection measures in place, a new research from Barclaycard has found.

The study revealed that half of small businesses hit by cyber crime in the last year, with 10 percent suffering repeated attacks. Moreover, over half are concerned that they are at risk of an attack in future, but just one in five see tackling cyber security as a priority. Also, the study showed that just one in six are confident that they have adequate measures in place to prevent cybercrime.

According to a spokesperson of Barclaycard, the survey of 250 small businesses reveals that just one in five (20 percent) see cyber security as a top business priority, whilst one in ten (10 percent) have never invested in improving the security of their website. This is despite the impact of a cyber attack costing UK small businesses on average between £75,000 and £311,000 in lost sales, business disruption, recovery of assets, fines and compensation.

The study suggests that as a result of not taking measures to protect themselves, businesses is leaving themselves open to potential threats. Almost half (48 percent) have been hit by at least one cyber attack in the past year, with one in ten (10 percent) experiencing more than four attacks. Almost one in five (16 percent) admit that they were only prompted to review their cyber security when they were hit by an attack.

The research found the majority (54 percent) of SMEs are concerned that could be at risk from an attack, but many lack the knowledge and expertise to know how to better protect their business online. Only one in eight (13 percent) claim to be confident that they understand enough about cyber crime to protect their business, and just one in six (15 percent) are very confident that they have adequate measures in place.

Despite their lack of expertise in how to mitigate against cyber crime, more than four in 10 (44 percent) of SMEs acknowledge that the responsibility for protecting their company online lies in their own hands. However, support from third parties is also a key. A quarter (23 percent) admit they lean on their website host and see it as their responsibility to provide support and more than one in 10 (12 percent) think it is the responsibility of their payment provider to protect businesses from an attack.

Commenting on the new study, Paul Clarke, Product Director at Barclaycard, said that businesses of all sizes face a constant and growing threat from cyber crime. “As our research shows, many small businesses are failing take the necessary precautions, either because they don’t know how to protect themselves or, more worryingly, because they don’t think they need to,” he added.

According to him, cyber security is not a one-off investment that can then be forgotten about, especially as criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they target businesses. For 50 years they have been working in partnership with customers to ensure they are not only putting the right measures in place from the outset, but are also continuously reviewing their policies to keep up with the latest industry developments.