By Daniel Hunter

Three quarters of SMEs are planning activity to take advantage of Cyber Monday, spending an estimated £1.6bn preparing for the day. But many are ignoring the threats of cyber security, new research suggests.

The research from the Government's Cyber Streetwise campaigns shows that SMEs could reap more benefits and win more business from their bigger competitors by improving their cyber security, new research suggests.

Over a third (37%) of SMEs, across all sectors, expect their sales to increase on Cyber Monday - one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. But nearly two thirds (62%) think bigger businesses are most likely to benefit and that the day won’t have much impact on them, largely because customers believe their websites are more secure than those of small firms.

But less than a third of SMEs consider cyber security a big priority for their business. And less than one in 10 take extra precautions when processing online payments, such as adopting a two stage 3D secure payment system and conducting due diligence on online transactions.

Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey said:“Cyber Monday and the Christmas shopping period present excellent opportunities for small and medium sized firms to do business online. Yet a large number of these companies are missing out, because consumers lack the confidence that their websites are secure and choose to shop elsewhere.

“By focusing on improving their levels of cyber security, small firms can protect themselves from threats and encourage more consumers to buy from them online. The Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign is a great place for these businesses to start, offering guidance and support on how they can make themselves more cyber secure.”

Consumer champion, entrepreneur and founder of Sarah Willingham said: “Cyber Monday is set to be one of the biggest shopping days of the year so it’s a great event for SMEs that sell both products and services online to take advantage of. Previous Cyber Streetwise research shows 82% of consumers would buy more from SMEs online if they were better at showing they were protected and this research reinforces the message that small businesses could greatly benefit if they took a few more steps to boost their cyber security.”

Cyber Streetwise, funded by the Government’s £860m National Cyber Security Programme, advises SMEs to take these basic steps to protect both themselves and their customers:

· Train staff to understand cyber threats with the Government’s free online course*
· Keep software secure by always installing updates
· Install and use anti-virus software
· Use complex passwords which include a minimum of three words and a symbol
· Use the Cyber Essentials scheme to protect against common cyber threats

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