SMEs waking up to the risky reality of cyber

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A recent article in BRINK revealed that an increasing number of SMEs are realising that no company is too small be victimised by cyber scams and hackers. These findings were detailed in  a recent report published by Zurich.

Just 10 percent of SMEs surveyed this year thought their businesses were too insignificant to be targeted by hackers. The percentage thinking this has almost halved since last year (17 percent in 2015), according to Zurich Insurance Group, which conducted the survey of 2,600 C-suite executives and managers across 13 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.

SMEs are vital to the global economy and dominate the business landscape. Estimates suggest that 95 percent of all businesses in the world are classified as SMEs. In addition, these companies account for nearly 60 percent of all private sector jobs. The economic contribution from SMEs is substantial but varies widely, from 16 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in low-income countries to 51 percent in high-income countries.

The biggest fears resulting from cyber-crime among those surveyed were the theft of customer data (27 percent) and reputational damage (20 percent). Those fears were followed by monetary theft (15 percent), business disruption (15 percent) and malicious identity appropriation (12 percent). The fastest-growing cyber-crime concerns came in the areas of reputational damage and monetary theft, both rising 4 points compared with last years’ survey, Zurich said.

SMEs also appear to be less confident that they have enough protection in place to thwart cyber-crime, as confidence in IT systems fell to less than 5 percent from 8 percent last year.

“With the number of high-profile cyber-security breaches in the media over the last year, it is not surprising that the risk awareness amongst SMEs has grown significantly,” said Lori Bailey, Global Head of Special Lines at Zurich, in a statement, noting that it’s “alarming that the vast majority of SMEs do not have the appropriate cyber-crime protection measures in place.”

The dramatic changes brought on by technology are impacting businesses, infrastructure and systems globally, Bailey said, which are “resetting the traditional expectations of risk management and its approaches across companies of all sizes.”

Global attitudes towards cyber risk are revealing but vary from region to region. In Europe reputational damage appeared as fast-rising concern stemming from a cyber-attack for European companies, landing in third place on the list of concerns, up from sixth place in 2015. The leading concerns of European SMEs are theft of consumer data and reputation damage (26 percent and 16 percent, respectively), which falls in line with the global trend. In addition, 17 percent of European SMEs worried that cyber-crime would lead to business disruption of some kind.

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Jelf is part of Marsh & McLennan Companies.  BRINK combines knowledge and expertise from across Marsh & McLennan and is managed by Atlantic Media Strategies, the digital consultancy of The Atlantic. The content is subject to BRINK’s Terms and Conditions of Use.


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Passionate about all things digital, Dani is a specialist in digital transformation for businesses of all shapes and sizes.