Around one in five small businesses in England and Wales have been a victim of cybercrime in the past two years, a major new study has revealed.

The finding forms part of new research published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Entitled Calling Time on Business Crime, the report shows how cybercrime has emerged as a major threat over the past two decades due to the “exponential growth in the use of digital networked technology”.

With figures rivalling physical crime, such as theft and fraud, the study reveals that around 20 per cent of small firms have fallen victim to a cyberattack in the last 24 months. Of those, 56 per cent say they have experienced “one to two incidents”, while 13 per cent report “more than 10”.

Extrapolating the data, the figures suggest that around 3.9 million cybercrimes are committed against small businesses each year, the cost of which can be extreme.

According to the study, cybercrime resulted in an average loss of £7,093 per business over the two year period, adding up to an aggregate cost of almost £3.75 billion across all small businesses each year.

Commenting on the report, Ben Francis, of the FSB, said: “These figures do not factor in-direct negative impacts such as reputational damage that can follow the perpetration of a crime, the lost hours and days and cancelled or delayed business plans that often follow from being subject to a criminal act.

“The main areas in which we can deal with business crime are dealing with the underlying issues causing people to move into criminality, working with businesses to reduce the opportunities to commit crime, and prioritising deterrence.

“It is important to recognise the impact that business crime has on businesses, individuals and our economy, and to work together so that we can reduce the negative effects of business crime on our communities as a whole.”

Click here to access the report.

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