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Government offers greater support and guidance for small firms to tackle record levels of electronic attacks.

Research commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), revealed that the number of cyber attacks hitting businesses has increased over the last year.

The Information Security Breaches Survey found some attacks caused more than £1 million of damage.It showed 87% of small firms experienced a security breach last year, up 10%. 93% of large organisations had also been targeted.To help guard against these attacks, which can cost a small business 6% of its turnover, government is offering further funding and guidance.

The Technology Strategy Board has extended a scheme to allow small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to bid for up to £5,000 to improve their cyber security.

BIS is also publishing a guide to help small businesses improve their cyber security and make it part of their business risk management process.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

Keeping electronic information safe and secure is vital to a business’s bottom line.Companies are more at risk than ever of having their cyber security compromised, in particular small businesses, and no sector is immune from attack. But there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent the majority of incidents.The package of support we are announcing today will help small businesses protect valuable assets like financial information, websites, equipment, software and intellectual property, driving growth and keeping UK businesses ahead in the global race.

The research showed that:

  • 87% of small firms – up 10% – experienced a security breach last year. 93% of large organisations were also targeted
  • affected companies experienced around 50% more attacks on average than a year ago
  • the average cost of the worst security breach for small organisations was between £35,000 and £65,000
  • the average cost for large organisations was between £450,000 and £850,000
  • the median number of breaches suffered was 113 for a large organisation and 17 for a small business

several individual breaches cost more than £1 million

  • 78% of large organisations were attacked by an unauthorised outsider (up from 73% a year ago) and 63% of small businesses (up from 41% a year ago)
  • 81% of respondents reported that senior management had not been able to put in place effective security, even though it was classed a high priority
  • 84% of large businesses report staff-related cyber breaches (the highest figure ever recorded) and 57% of small businesses (up from 48% a year ago)
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