SMEs to Cut Cybersecurity Funding in Tough Economic Times – A Bad Move?

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Last year was another bad year for cybersecurity, as the global average cost of data breaches hit around $4.45 million. Despite the fact this was a 15% increase over three years, the response from small businesses – who are typically the most heavily targeted by cybercriminals – has not been to increase security spending, but to cut back. According to a survey carried out by Mastercard, around 30% of SMEs cut back on their cybersecurity funding toward the end of 2023, with just 22% citing it as a priority concern amidst the cost-of-living crisis.

The Risks of a Breach

This is particularly worrying considering how frequent cyber attacks are on small businesses. According to a Cybercrime study, around 43% of all cyberattacks are carried out on SMEs, with the maximum cost of data breaches reaching around 4% of annual turnover in the wake of GDPR. 

Apart from this, although cybersecurity might not be a key priority for these businesses, it is a top priority for their consumers. Around the world, internet users are already doing as much as they can to remove personal information from Google, opt out of data brokers, and keep their data as safe as possible. If businesses aren’t going to the same efforts, then this can lead to a drop in acquisition and retention. 

As mentioned before, only 22% of SMEs cite cybersecurity as a top priority, and yet 62% cite customer acquisition, customer relationships, and growth. How can the same businesses achieve this without strong funding for their cybersecurity concerns? In 2024, you cannot have one without the other. 

Why Funding is More Important Than Ever

There should be no doubt that data breaches are on the rise. In the US alone, the first nine months of 2023 saw a breach increase of 20% compared to all of 2022. In 2024, figures like this are not going to go away. 

According to the Cybercrime Magazine, it’s projected that cybercrime costs will grow by 15% year on year, reaching $10.5 trillion as early as 2025. With new methods and technologies being utilised by hackers – including AI tech, which opens even more attack surfaces to exploit – it’s more important than ever that cybersecurity funding remains strong and constant.

A Look Toward the Future

With all this being said, cyber criminals should not be rejoicing. While investment and tech is important to keep attackers at bay, further surveys have shown how more businesses than ever are implementing cybersecurity training to keep their team aware of potential threats. With 95% of cybersecurity breaches resulting from human error, simply being aware and vigilant can help a business to grow a robust and reliable defence system. 

As well as this, it’s worth reiterating that these cutbacks are in light of the current economic climate. In 2025, however, it’s projected that the economy will expand in the EU by 1.7%, with inflation falling to 3% in 2024, and then 2.5% in 2025. As SMEs look to kick back over the next few years, revenues could soon swing in a positive direction – causing cybersecurity funding to once again be increased. It’s hard to tell exactly what is going to happen, but these are certainly signs that cybersecurity is going to get stronger for SMEs and individuals alike.



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