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Businesses putting reputation on the line

Small manufacturing businesses are underestimating the impact a cyber attack could have on their reputation and must take steps to protect it, according to the findings of the Small Business Reputation and the Cyber Risk report, launched by the Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign and KPMG

Despite the majority (96%) of small manufacturing businesses surveyed thinking about their company’s reputation frequently or all the time, they aren’t considering how a breach could affect it. In fact just 30% of those surveyed that haven’t experienced a breach say the potential damage a cyber breach could cause is an “important” consideration.

However 83% of consumers surveyed are now concerned about which businesses have access to their data and whether it’s safe, and over half (58%) say that a cyber breach would discourage them from using a business in the future. 

This concern is even greater in the supply chain and recently published KPMG Supply Chain research supports this. 86% of procurement departments would consider removing a supplier from their roster due to a breach, highlighting that an attack can have serious short and long term implications. 94% of procurement managers say that cyber security standards are important when awarding a project to an SME supplier.

This is reflected by the fact that the vast majority (97%) of small manufacturing businesses surveyed who have experienced a breach felt the attack impacted their reputation in some way, with 33% of those having been breached reporting brand damage, 24% reporting a loss of clients and 19% receiving negative reviews on social media.

And the impact has been long lasting. Three in ten of those surveyed have been unable to grow in line with previous expectations, and a third said it took over six months for the business to get back on track. Quality of service is also at risk; those who experienced a cyber breach found it impacted the business’ ability to operate (97%) and caused customer delays (27%).

The lack of concern around potential reputation damage may be explained by the fact that many small manufacturing businesses don’t realise the value of their data. The majority (97%) hold data in their IT systems, yet up to 27% of those surveyed don’t consider this data to be commercially sensitive. And despite the fact that customer, financial and IP data can be shared with competitors if a company is attacked, just a third (34%) of small manufacturing businesses said they would be immediately concerned about competitors gaining advantage if they were breached.

The report also reveals that more than a third of small manufacturing businesses (37%) don’t think they will be a target for an attack, despite the majority of consumers worrying about the security of their data, especially in the hands of small businesses.

The Government also offers a free cyber security guide and a free online training course for small businesses. Visit www.cyberstreetwise.com to learn more about the simple steps to stay cyber secure.

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