Forty-eight percent of SMBs say a major data breach would likely shut their business down permanently, according to the results of a recent AppRiver survey of 1,059 cyber security decision makers at SMBs with fewer than 250 employees.
In some sectors, that proportion is even higher. Seventy-one percent of financial services and insurance SMBs said a major breach would be fatal to their businesses, and 62 percent of healthcare SMBs and 60 percent of business consulting SMBs said the same.
As a result, 58 percent of survey respondents said they're more concerned about suffering a major data breach than they are about an office fire, flood or physical break-in.
And they're aware of the most likely sources of those attacks – respondents said they're more concerned about cyber attacks by disgruntled ex-employees than they are about cyber attacks by competitors, hacktivists or lone wolf hackers.
A Prevalent Threat
Seventy-one percent of SMBs said they've experienced at least one attempted cyber attack within the last quarter, and 64 percent said cyber attacks are "prevalent" among businesses such as theirs.
And they feel outmatched – just 44 percent of respondents give themselves a positive rating for cyber security readiness, and 61 percent believe hackers have more sophisticated technology at their disposal than the SMBs' own cyber security resources.
At the same time, 53 percent of respondents admit they don't invest enough in their cyber security.
"In today's digital age, businesses rely more heavily on their intellectual assets than physical properties – bringing cyber security to the forefront," Dave Wagner, CEO of AppRiver parent company Zix Corporation, said in a statement.
Still, that level of awareness isn't true across all sectors. Just 28 percent of hospitality sector respondents believe their business is vulnerable to imminent threats of cyber attacks, compared to 62 percent of those in technology and 47 percent in the financial sector.
Similarly, just 50 percent of hospitality respondents say a successful cyber attack would cause short-term and long-term losses, compared to 71 percent in technology and 72 percent in the financial sector.
More broadly, 70 percent of respondents admit having logged onto public Wi-Fi using their work devices, and 53 percent admit to doing so at least from time to time or frequently.
"Today, six in 10 U.S. SMBs go out of business within six months of a successful cyber attack," AppRiver senior security analyst Troy Gill said in a statement. "However, I often see a sizeable gap between perceptions and reality among many SMB leaders, which is again evident in the latest survey."
"They don't know what they don't know; the lack of preparedness becomes a dangerous weapon for cyber criminals," Gill added.