Cybercrime is costing UK small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) hundreds of millions of pounds every year, it has been claimed.
In a new report, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) estimates the annual cost of cyber-crime as being £785 million to the sector.
The organisation said an increasing number of SMBs are falling victim to fraud and illegal online activity.
It found that 41 per cent of FSB members have been a victim in the last 12 months, with the average cost put at around £4,000 per business.
Three in ten members said they have been a victim of fraud, typically by a customer or client (13 per cent) or through ‘card not present' fraud (ten per cent).
But despite the risks, around a fifth of FSB members have taken no steps to protect themselves against cyber-crime.
This potentially increases their risk exposure, and the likelihood of suffering a costly breach.
Some 36 per cent of respondents said they regularly install security patches to protect themselves from fraud.
And almost six in ten members regularly update their virus scanning software to minimise their exposure to online crime.
Mike Cherry, national policy chairman at the FSB, said cyber-crime poses "a real and growing threat for small firms".
He commented that it "isn't something that should be ignored".
"Many businesses will be taking steps to protect themselves but the cost of crime can act as a barrier to growth," Mr Cherry added.
"For example, many businesses will not embrace new technology as they fear the repercussions and do not believe they will get adequate protection from crime."
Mr Cherry said SMBs want to see "clear action" from the government and the wider public sector.
He called on the coalition to simplify and streamline its guidance targeted specifically at SMBs and make sure there is the capacity for businesses to report when they have been a victim of fraud or online crime.
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Posted by Alex Boardman