30 JUNE 2017 • 12:01AM
Small companies are more concerned about the threat posed by cybercrime than they are about Brexit, a new survey has revealed.
A poll of 500 SMEs, conducted by Barclaycard, found that 44pc were worried about being hit by cybercrime or a data breach, following a spate of attacks that has hit organisations worldwide, including the NHS.
By comparison just 34pc cited Brexit as a major concern.
In response to cybersecurity fears, SMEs are planning to up their spend on firewalls, security software and other defences to more than £3.8bn over the next 12 months.
Last year UK SMEs spent £2.9bn on cybersecurity, equating to an average of £1,600 per business, the same amount as it spent on payment improvements such as contactless payment.
The survey found more than a third (34pc) of small businesses were concerned about their ability to manage multiple threats, demands and priorities as their businesses grow.
David Price, a senior associate at the Innovation Unit and futurologist, said SMEs needed to invest in all aspects of technology adoption to stay secure and competitive.
He said: “As consumers become more tech-savvy, SMEs are increasingly dependent on their digital presence for survival, and face new pressures from all angles.
“A deep understanding of emerging technologies – like artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality – will all become ‘must haves’, not luxuries, over the next five to ten years.”
A massive cyber attack this week paralysed government ministers and dozens of businesses in Ukraine before spreading around the globe.
Companies impacted by the ‘Petya’ ransomware epidemic included an Australian chocolate factory and India’s largest port.
Security experts said the virus could have spread in a similar way to the WannaCry attack that hit the NHS and other organisations earlier this year.
Companies and individuals have been advised to review their security protocols and to never pay a ransom if attacked, instead restoring files from a backup if possible.
The National Cyber Security Centre advises businesses to keep security software patches up to date, use proper antivirus software and back up the data that matters.