The National Computing Centre (NCC) has said 70% of small companies are ill-equipped to deal with IT security breaches.
The NCC said that many of these companies risk going out of business if they are hit by a serious breach.
The body conducted research among over 500 small firms on behalf of the government’s Business Link agency which advices small companies and found that the most common risks are from viruses, often resulting from employees opening unsolicited e-mails.
In the survey, 70% of small firms said that their IT was critical to their business, but that they are not equipped to deal with IT threats like viruses, fraud and system failure.
According to security software company Sophos, 15,000 new viruses were discovered last year alone, but the NCC said half of the businesses questioned do not have concrete plans in place to deal with growing threats.
This year’s annual Department of Trade and Industry/PriceWaterhouseCoopers security survey shows that 95% of firms of all sizes use anti-virus software, but that 35% are still reporting virus infections.
The NCC survey found that 20% of small businesses had experienced on-line security problems, and 50% said it was possible they could be affected again this year.
Business Link has been working with the NCC to develop security tools and produce guides that are relevant for anyone starting or growing a small business in the UK.
The IT risk tools are designed to enable small companies to reduce the time and costs associated with managing an efficient and secure IT system.
Mark Holden, Business Link IT security expert, said, “Once a business has carried out an IT risk assessment with the risk tools we have available, they will be presented with a detailed breakdown of their risks, practical and detailed advice on how to reduce them, and links to further guidance.”