Telecommunications giant Vodafone is calling for the introduction of new cybersecurity policies to help small businesses in the UK recover from the impact of the global health pandemic.
In a statement released today, the company asked Boris Johnson’s government to protect small and medium-sized businesses by providing more support to the National Cyber Security Centre and making cybersecurity protections more accessible.
Vodafone proposed that the value-added tax (VAT) on cybersecurity products should be reduced to 5% to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can purchase adequate cyber-defense.
The company’s plea for a policy change coincides with the release today of a new report, “Protecting our SMEs: Cybersecurity in the new world of work,” that shows almost a quarter of SMEs in the UK, the equivalent of 1.3 million businesses, say a cyber-attack could cause them to cease operating.
A further 16% of SMEs, a figure that equates to nearly a million companies, said a cyber-attack could result in a reduction in the number of employees.
“Access to cybersecurity products could be the assistance that is required to take SMEs to the level they need to mitigate such attacks,” Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, told Infosecurity Magazine.
“However, a lack of awareness and education amongst employees arguably remains the biggest cybersecurity hurdle for SMEs.”
SMEs employ three-fifths of the UK’s workforce and, according to the Federation of Small Businesses, account for 99.9% of the UK’s six million private-sector businesses.
“Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks, as they don’t have the same IT staff in place as large companies, or the large budgets required to shield them from the ever-increasing number of attacks,” Timur Kovalev, chief technology officer at California cybersecurity company Untangle, told Infosecurity Magazine.
“For example, in Untangle’s 2020 survey of our IT administrators, 38% of SMBs have $1,000 or less allocated to their IT security budget.”
Kovalev added that encouraging small businesses to act, and to step up their cybersecurity technology, was a good thing.
He said, “Not all small businesses are aware of the risks, and those that do know the risks don’t always have enough budget to invest in enough protection.”