Irish SMEs unconcerned about cybercrime - survey

Competition, lack of customers and reputational damage cited as main business risks

It might make plenty of headlines but Irish firms aren’t overly concerned about cybercrime, according to a new survey.

The 2015 SME Risk Survey published by Zurich Insurance shows the vast majority of small and medium-sized enterprises in Ireland may be putting their business at risk by overlooking their exposure to hacking incidents.

The survey, which was conducted among 200 companies, found that that 90 per cent of respondents don’t see cybercrime as something they need to protect their business against. This is despite the fact that when pressed on the impact that a hacking incident might have, 42 per cent cited the theft of customer data as being their greatest exposure.

Other risks identified by businesses from cybercrime include identity fraud, cited by 22 per cent of respondents, and business disruption, mentioned by 14 per cent of firms surveyed.

“In recent years we have witnessed the detrimental impact that cyber-attacks can have on large businesses, however the threat to smaller and medium sized businesses is very real and should be treated as such by leadership,” said Shane Keating, head of commercial mid-market and SME business from Zurich.

“Cyber-attacks are on the rise, and arguably pose a greater threat to SMEs who may not be able to cope with the resultant financial and reputational consequences so having the right protective measures in place is a must,” he added.

The study shows 35 per cent of SMEs believe high competition is their biggest threat, followed by a lack of customer demand. Some 16 per cent of respondents said they didn’t think their business was exposed to any risks at present.

The number of companies who see reputational damage as a threat to their business has more than doubled in the past to two years with 12 per cent of respondents now referring to it as a key risk.