A new study by Cisco, titled Cybersecurity for SMBs: Asia Pacific Businesses Prepare for Digital Defense, shows that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in India are exposed, under attack, and more worried about cybersecurity threats than before. According to the study, three in four (74 per cent) SMBs in India suffered a cyber incident in the past year, resulting in 85 per cent losing customer information to malicious actors, in addition to a tangible impact on business.

More than half (62 per cent) of SMBs in India that suffered cyber incidents in the past 12 months said that cyber-attacks cost their business more than Rs 35 million. Of these, 13 per cent say that the cost was over Rs 70 million.

The study is based on an independent, double-blinded survey of over 3,700 business and IT leaders with cybersecurity responsibilities across 14 markets across the Asia Pacific region.

The survey highlighted that SMBs saw several ways in which attackers tried to infiltrate their systems. In India, malware attacks, which affected 92 per cent of SMBs, topped the charts, followed by phishing (76 per cent). 38 per cent of those that suffered incidents said that the number one cause was not having cybersecurity solutions. Meanwhile, 36 per cent ranked cybersecurity solutions not being adequate to detect or prevent the attack as the number one reason.

Besides the loss of customer data, SMBs that suffered a cyber incident also lost internal emails (73 per cent), employee data (71 per cent), intellectual property (74 per cent), and financial information (75 per cent). In addition, 73 per cent of those said it disrupted their operations, 76 per cent admitted it negatively impacted their reputation, and more than half (70 per cent) said it resulted in a loss of customer trust.

However, SMBs are rising to the challenge. The study highlights that they are taking strategic measures like carrying out simulation exercises to improve their cybersecurity posture.

Commenting on the development, Panish PK, managing director – small business, Cisco India & SAARC, said, “As they digitise, SMBs are embracing the fact that any transformation, especially one that allows them to meet customers where they are and build trust, must begin with cybersecurity.” “However, given that they typically operate with limited resources and smaller teams, simplicity is the key to successful security deployments. According to the study, most SMBs (97 per cent) feel that they have too many technologies and struggle to integrate them. At Cisco, we’re committed to working with India’s small and medium-sized businesses to help simplify and fortify their threat response and ensure infallible safety of their employees, assets, and customers”, he added.