Businesses in the UK are more concerned about cyber-attacks now than they were a year ago, according to the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer research.
Two thirds of SMEs (67%) said they were more worried about cyber security threats now, with a third of these (31%) reporting that they were significantly so.
The figures were collected after several high-profile data breaches and other attacks were reported in 2018. Large and well-known enterprises were affected, including British Airways, Ticketmaster and Facebook.
Companies in London were most likely to be perturbed, with over 85% saying their concern had increased over the previous 12 months. In Yorkshire (75%), the North West (73%) and the North East (72%), business leaders were also more nervous about the issue now. Those in the South East were least likely, with just over half saying that they were more worried now than they were at the end of 2017.
Many businesses have met this challenge head on by investing in methods of protecting themselves against online crime. According to Close Brothers’ research, 62% of companies are spending more on cyber security than they were a year ago. Just 25% of businesses said their spending had remained steady year on year.
Regional expenditure increases coincide with concern. London businesses were most likely to spend more, with 82% saying they devote a greater amount to cybersecurity now than they did a year ago. This was followed by increased outlay in Yorkshire (72%), the North East (67%) and the North West (65%).
David Thomson, CEO of Close Brothers Invoice Finance, said: “It is positive that businesses across the UK are taking online security seriously and are making every effort to ensure that they are not unnecessarily vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
“SMEs can invest in cybersecurity prevention methods, such as anti-virus software, secure networks and staff training. However, even with these precautions in place, it is vital that businesses remain vigilant because online criminals are continually developing more sophisticated techniques and technology.
“As recent cyber-attacks have highlighted, it is vital that businesses not only protect themselves against online threats initially, but also produce robust plans to limit potential damage if problems do occur.”