Microsoft and Vodafone report reveals SMB sector loses billions to cyber attacks over the last three years

Nearly half (48.5%) of SMBs have reported that they’ve experienced multiple cyber security breaches over the last three years, with the total financial loss amounting to €8,500 each or €2.3 billion across the industry, according to a new joint study (include link) carried out by Vodafone Ireland and Microsoft Ireland.  According to the research, which was carried out with more than 250 SMB business owners with 9-50 employees, of those that reported a breach, 43% said that they experienced up to five attacks in that period.

However, despite the financial and reputational risk that cyber-attacks create, 34% of businesses have reduced their spend on cyber security and nearly 60% of business owners reported that they are unprepared or very unprepared against preventing a cyber-attack.

When asked about their wider business confidence, the report found that the majority of business owners expect to see growth in the next 12 months, with more than 40% expecting to achieve growth of between 25 – 50%. The majority are seeking growth opportunities via a combination of new local and international markets.

E-commerce solutions are increasingly being used to drive revenue, with almost 60% of business owners suggesting that this accounts for between 21% and 50% of their revenue. Business owners highlighted that digitalisation has brought them significant productivity gains, efficiencies and / or increased sales to their business within the past 12 months. That said, more than 50% of business owners consider digitalisation to be a medium to low priority. In fact, the rate of digitalisation is starting to decrease from its high point during the pandemic.

Commenting on the report, Sinéad Bryan, Managing Director of Vodafone Ireland Business said: “Despite rising inflationary costs, economic and political unrest, and the aftereffects of the pandemic, we have seen SMBs transform, grow, and adapt through significant change. Our research shows that for SMBs to stay resilient and insulated from risk, security needs to be front and foremost in their strategic plans.

“It?is also evident that?technology will?play an even bigger role in how SMBs plan for continued recovery?and growth. In fact, our study shows that those SMBs who were agile and adaptable and embraced technology over the last 24 months managed to grow revenue, reduce debt and move to target opportunities across international markets. Irish SMBs are traditionally known for their strong focus on the domestic market, but with expansion to markets abroad, they will have a need to invest in new technologies to achieve a strong position.” 

Anne Sheehan, General Manager of Microsoft Ireland, said: “Our study highlights the significant rise in the rate of digitalisation among SMBs during the pandemic, and the direct financial and business growth that this has created. However, despite the many benefits of a digital strategy, it is still considered to be a low to medium priority for many companies we surveyed. Indeed, our findings show that since the end of the pandemic, the rate of digitalisation has decreased.

“As the cornerstone of Ireland’s economy and a core driver of post-pandemic economic recovery, it is of the utmost importance that SMBs maintain a position of digital perseverance.  With digital perseverance as an imperative, technology will  “support company-wide growth, despite internal and external risk and allow them to achieve their business goals and do more with less.”

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