Cyberattack and data loss preoccupies UK SMEs despite rise in confidence

Zurich Insurance Group Risk Index shows improvement

British SMEs have grown increasingly concerned about technological disruption to their businesses with cybersecurity and data loss now rated as two of the three biggest worries, according to Zurich Insurance Group's quarterly SME Risk Index.

Overall, the firm's Index, calculated every three months using interviews with around 600 decision makers, paints a picture of a sector now extremely preoccupied with the potential of technology to benefit but also harm them.

The index score dropped (that is, improved) to 41.68 points, demonstrating growing positive sentiment about the UK economy in the last year. But while one in four believed that online trading offered major opportunities, 39 percent expressed anxiety about the downsides of technology-driven business models.

The single biggest tech concern was a network failure at 36 percent, with 35 percent citing data loss and 31 percent cyberattacks; a growing worry for 15 percent was 'social media reputation', the trend for firms to find themselves on the receiving end of crowdsourced negativity.

More conventional concerns for 36 percent included the ability to find and keep talent, with one in ten even mentioning the aging workforce as an issue.

A surprising 8 in ten respondents said they weren't worried about traditional threats such as weather and fire, something that won't be good news for insurers.

"It's very encouraging to see that 41 percent of SMEs experienced growth in the last quarter, and that the vast majority have avoided emergency measures to cut costs and improve business performance," said Zurich Insurance director of SME, Richard Coleman.

"It's also important that they plan sufficiently ahead for the long- term risks on the horizon, such as the significant changes underway in technology and workforce structure."

Interestingly, insurance against technological problems including cyberattack is still thin on the ground for SMEs, despite the occasional firm offering cover as part of an assessment service.

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