Cyber criminals 'see SMEs as soft targets'

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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been warned of the risk posed by cyber criminals.

According to commercial insurer RSA, cyber criminals often see SMEs as soft targets, SmallBusiness.co.uk reports.

However, the organisation believes not enough smaller firms are taking adequate precautions to deal with this threat.

Indeed, research by RSA found that just nine per cent of SMEs in the UK have insurance that protects them from a cyber threat.

This is despite 28 per cent admitting that an unexpected £50,000 bill - less than the average cost of a cyber attack - would put them out of business.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled either doubted the need for having this insurance against cyber crime in place, or were not sure how it would safeguard their firm.

Russell White, spokesman for RSA, commented: "Just 26 per cent of the SMEs we questioned said they were concerned about a cyber attack on their IT systems, infrastructure or devices.

"However, SMEs are perceived by criminals as a soft target, since they are less likely to have stringent security measures in place."

Mr White warned that the consequences of cyber crime extend far beyond a significant financial loss.

Indeed, he said it can also cause massive reputational damage to SMEs, which can ultimately "mean the difference between staying afloat and going under".

This, he added, is why it is "crucial" for smaller businesses to take out adequate cover to protect them if the worst happens.

Interestingly, the age of the SME owner seems to be a key factor in influencing the take-up of cyber insurance throughout the country.

Just nine per cent of those aged 55 or above have considered taking out this type of cover, compared with 37 per cent of business owners aged between 18 and 34.