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Poll by YouGov and Fasthosts reveals micro businesses in the dark over cybersecurity

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

A new report by Fasthosts, a UK-based web and cloud hosting provider, has highlighted the misconceptions faced by the UK’s smallest businesses (those with 10 or fewer employees) when it comes to managing their data security.

Drawing on new research by YouGov, the new report, Micro businesses are in the dark over cybersecurity, found that most micro businesses are unconcerned with where their data is stored, and most believe that they have never been the victim of a cyber-attack.

Fasthosts commissioned YouGov to determine how micro businesses in the UK view cybersecurity risks. In particular, Fasthosts was interested in the levels of awareness of the types of threats facing micro businesses, the steps they are taking to protect themselves and the data they hold, and the extent to which they use business cloud services within their digital security strategy. Key findings include:

Security breaches and preparedness

89% of decision makers in micro businesses claim to have never been affected by a cybersecurity breach, yet only 14% have intrusion detection systems in place to detect such a breach.

These results also conflict with a 2016 report by the Federation of Small Businesses which found that two-thirds of FSB members had been a victim of cybercrime in the previous two years, costing an average of £3,000 per business.

While 84% of businesses claim to have ‘some form of cyber security protection in place,’ the level of sophistication varies significantly: only 63% have a firewall, only 53% update their programs and systems regularly, and only 14% have intrusion detection systems in place. Only 20% of micro businesses consider cyber security to be a high priority.

The role of the cloud in data security for businesses that store data

Only 15% of micro businesses are worried about where/how their business’ data is stored, but one-third (33%) would move data to the cloud for ‘greater data security’. Despite the prevalence of cloud storage, only 44% of businesses that store data store at least some of their data in the cloud. Furthermore just 10% of all micro businesses believe the cloud is more secure than an on-premise server vs. 32% who believe a dedicated server is more secure.

Alex Hilton, CEO of the industry body the Cloud Industry Forum, commented on the report, stating, “It is great to see Fasthosts investing in this YouGov study to not only help us understand where businesses are in their adoption of the cloud, but to lift the lid on the misperceptions that exist. While it is reassuring to see that 44% of micro businesses store some of their data in the cloud, it is also alarming to see that over three times as many businesses believe an on-premise server is more secure than a cloud alternative. The protection of our data is one of the biggest challenges of the day, so it is important for businesses of all sizes to understand that far from being a threat to their data security, the cloud actually presents a solution.”

Simon Yeoman, general manager at Fasthosts comments, “This study shows that many micro businesses remain in the dark over cyber security threats and the solutions available to defend themselves. While 84% of businesses claim to have ‘some form of cyber security protection in place,’ the fact that 33% of businesses do not have a firewall should be a cause for concern.

“The research has also highlighted some misperceptions among businesses as to the best ways to protect their data. With only 15% of micro businesses that stores data claiming to be worried about where or how their data is stored, there seems to be widespread confusion over whether data even needs to be protected at all! This should serve as a wakeup call to all of us in the data hosting industry to help educate micro businesses on the necessity of concrete data security practices, especially in a post-GDPR landscape where poor data practices will be very costly indeed.”

“84% of businesses that store data have no concern with where that data is stored, but it is reassuring that 33% would move their data to the cloud for ‘greater data security’. It is also reassuring to see that 44% of micro businesses already have at least some of their data in the cloud. Given how affordable and accessible cloud storage is today, we would urge all businesses to move their data to the cloud to leverage the enhanced security that these services provide, not to mention the improved convenience of being able to access their data from anywhere.”

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