Small businesses are ignoring the threat of hackers and leaving themselves open to attack, latest figures from Network Box show.

The survey, which questioned 250 SMEs, found that 62 per cent of SMEs have no system in place to protect against phishing and other attacks and more than a third (38 per cent) admitted to having no protection against spyware. The majority (99 per cent) of those businesses questioned said they do not know how often their anti-virus software is updated, while the same proportion of respondents do not have any way of being alerted if the update system fails.

“Worryingly, the message about the need for IT security does not appear to be reaching SMEs,” said Simon Heron, managing director of Network Box. “We do appreciate that SMEs have far fewer resources and expertise than large enterprises, which are far better equipped to deal with IT security. However, finding resources is a question of priorities. For any business – large or small – that operates in the online world, effective IT security has to be a priority.”

“The results show that many SMEs are wide open to attack on many fronts, and it’s up to the industry to continue pushing the security message to SMEs. If they understood what the repercussions of an attack would be, they’d be far more concerned about protecting themselves.”

According to the research, 30 per cent of small businesses do not have an anti-spam solution in place and 48 per cent do not use a web filtering system.

“Unfortunately, we suspect that some SMEs are living in a time warp and pretending that either these threats do not exist, or that they will not become a victim. What many SMEs don’t realise is they don’t need to be experts and that IT security is not prohibitively expensive – there are many all-in-one security devices available, or they could outsource IT security to a specialist company,” says Heron.