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Dramatic increase in cyber attacks on UK business

Nearly all British firms have been affected by cyber crimes in the last year, regardless of their size. This is according to Government commissioned research published this week, which also shows that the number of attacks hitting businesses has increased dramatically in the last year.

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87% of small firms experienced a security breach - up 10% from the previous 12 months, with an even more startling 93% of large organisations having been targeted.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Information Security Breaches Survey found that some of the attacks caused more than £1 million of damage.

The average number of breaches experienced by large organisations increased from 71 to 113, and by small companies from 11 to 17 - a rise of more than 50% over a year ago.

At the same time, the Government has increased support for small firms to help them protect themselves. The Technology Strategy Board has extended a scheme to allow small and medium enterprises to bid for a share of a £500,000 fund to improve their cyber security by bringing in outside expertise. SMEs can apply for funding of up to £5,000 under the scheme. BIS is also publishing guidance to help small firms make cyber security part of their normal risk management procedures.

Keeping electronic information secure is crucial to a business's profitability, according to Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. "Companies are more at risk than ever of having their cyber security compromised, in particular small businesses, and no sector is immune from attack," Mr Willetts said. "But there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent the majority of incidents. The package of support we are announcing today will help small businesses protect valuable assets like financial information, websites, equipment, software and intellectual property, driving growth and keeping UK businesses ahead in the global race."