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Cybercrime in the digital landscape

Cybercrime in the UK has been increasing over the years, as more businesses are turning to digital technology following the rise of the fourth digital revolution.  The impact cybercrime is having on UK businesses is severe, with the cost of such attacks to the economy estimated at £11bn.  Between October 2017 and March 2018 alone, £11m was lost through hacking on social media and email.

Although businesses of all sizes are at risk and should take measures to prevent cyberattacks, it seems small businesses are a key target of this growing type of crime, with 71% of small businesses with less than ten employees reporting a cyberattack in the past two years. This is compared to only 13% of larger organisations reporting an attack within the same time frame.

Increasing numbers of small businesses are expanding their digital capability, which is widening the exposure to risk of cybercrime. However, according to the FSB Business Crime Survey, SMEs do not have sufficient measures in place to prevent such attacks:

  • 1 in 5 SMEs do not have computer security software
  • 1 in 3 SMEs are not backing up customer data on a regular basis
  • 3 in 4 SMEs don’t store customer back up data offsite or on a separate device
  • 1 in 5 SMEs train staff in good IT security practice

Many small businesses do not know where to start to prevent a cyberattack, with as many as two-thirds unaware of the risk to their business or the severity of the risk. The effects of a cyberattack on any business are vast and can cause disruption; however the effects for a small business can be particularly severe, with the financial loss of an attack potentially meaning the difference between them continuing to grow, or attempting to survive the next financial year.

Preventing cybercrime

As many SMEs are unaware of the true consequences of a cyberattack, it is important that more is done to promote the effects this crime has on businesses and the economy as a whole, and how businesses should protect themselves in the digital world.  

The Hertfordshire Growth Hub, in partnership with Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, recently held a cyber security event to inform local SMEs about the risks of potential cyberattacks, how they can raise their defences and what the Hertfordshire Police and County Council are implementing to prevent cyber-attacks.  

Find out more about our work in the public sector.

Sources: HM Government Cyber Streetwise Survey; Regional Organised Crime Unit, September 2018