Increasing concerns about cyber threats are a major factor in this rise, with 45 per cent of the decision makers now concerned about technological vulnerabilities in their business (e.g. cyber security, data integrity, and mobile devices) – a 12 per cent increase since January 2013.
Some 37 per cent SME respondents now class the threat of cyber-attack as one of the three biggest technology risks to their business, the highest level of concern shown for this threat since the Risk Index was created.
The survey also reveals that data loss and privacy breaches are the number one technology concern facing SMEs, with 36 per cent of respondents choosing this option, when asked to pick their top three. Data loss has now overtaken the failure of local network systems, which posed the greatest problem last quarter.
Zurichs separate Risk Nexus report on cyber risk offers an insight into why concerns about cyber threats are so high, revealing that 2013 was the worst year for data breaches so far, with 740m data files viewed or stolen worldwide.
Risk Index respondents also expressed concern about regulation and workforce challenges. Half of SMEs are now concerned about business regulation and compliance, and 44 per cent of SMEs are concerned about workforce challenges, such as availability of expertise and workforce capacity.
However, new innovations, including tech developments, are also increasingly seen as an opportunity. Almost one in four of SMEs view web-trading and online marketing as one of the three biggest opportunities for their business at present, with 21 per cent seeing new areas of business innovation (e.g. teleworking and mobile technology) in the same way.
Recommended reading: The seven biggest cyber crimes in history