Almost half of all small businesses in the UK do not consider themselves as potential targets for hackers and other cyber criminals.
36% of small businesses operate below the security poverty line and cannot effectively protect themselves from cyber threats.
A survey conducted by Duo Security in partnership with YouGov has revealed that the readiness of small businesses in the UK to tackle cyber threats is alarmingly low.
With 45% of small business owners believing that they will never be targeted by cyber criminals, it is no surprise that cyber security spending by small businesses is much lower compared to medium and large enterprises. Thanks to this belief, almost 38% of small businesses told the surveyors that they will spend nothing at all to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats this financial year.
At the same time, 30% of small businesses will allocate less than 3% of their overall budgets on cyber security products and services. If we add the two groups, an alarming 78%, or almost 4 in every 5, of small businesses in the UK either spend nothing or a very small portion of their budgets to tackle cyber threats.
To help small businesses strengthen the cyber security of their systems and websites, the government is offering an ambitious Cyber Essentials scheme. While the programme aims to help companies strengthen their IT systems, implement the latest cyber security practices and effectively handle and protect customer data, its adoption is also a mandatory requirement for firms to bid for government contracts.
Despite the free cyber security training on offer, a British Chambers of Commerce' report recently revealed that only 10% of sole traders and 15% of firms employing one to four employees had signed up for the scheme.
The Duo Security survey also revealed that while 47% of small business owners consider cyber security as too expensive, they view the lack of knowledge on combating cyber threats as a bigger issue compared to money or employee awareness.
“The feedback from this survey underlines that more needs to be done to better communicate government initiatives like Cyber Risk Aware and Cyber Essentials to their target audience," said Professor Richard Benham, Chairman of The National Cyber Management Centre.
"The fact that knowledge to combat cyber threats is considered the biggest requirement to help small businesses rise above the security poverty line shows just how valuable this programme could be in helping educate them in how to tackle cyber attacks, without breaking the bank," he added.