A DORCHESTER businessman is urging small firms to protect themselves against cyber crime.

A report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed that small companies are carrying the cost of cyber-crime in an increasingly vulnerable digital economy.

The report found that smaller firms are collectively attacked seven million times a year, costing the UK economy an estimated £5.26billion.

David Upshall of South Street-based David Upshall Insurance Services, said: “The digital economy is vital to small businesses but the more you use it the more you are at risk of being attacked by criminals.

“Making sure you use computer securing software and different passwords is essential.

“The types of cyber-crime most commonly affecting small businesses are phishing emails, spear phishing emails, and malware attacks.

“Cyber and data risks insurance is designed to support and protect your business if you are unfortunate enough to be hacked.”

Despite more than 90 per cent of small firms taking steps to protect their business from digital threats, two thirds have been a victim of cyber-crime in the last two years.

Those affected have been victims on four occasions on average, costing each business almost £3,000 in total.

Proportionately, small businesses suffer more costs through this crime than larger ones.

Not surprisingly, 99 per cent of the UK’s 5.4million small firms rate the internet as being highly important to their business, with 66 per cent offering, or planning to offer, goods and services online.

Without intervention, the growing sophistication of cyber-attacks could stifle small business growth and in the worst cases close them down.

Phishing scams are attempts by scammers to trick people into giving out personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers.

Spear phishing are emails that appear to be from an individual or business that you know but they’re from the same criminal hackers who want credit card and bank account numbers, passwords, and financial information on computers.

The FSB say the law enforcement response to cyber-crime must be improved at the local, regional, national and international levels.

The group has called on more investment by the Government in law enforcement resources to effectively tackle cyber-crime and small businesses are encouraged to report every crime in the fight against criminals who are becoming ever more sophisticated in their approach.

Dorset Police was one of the first in the country to appoint a cyber-crime prevention officer last year, Jake Moore.

Anyone who runs a business and would like advice can contact Mr Moore by emailing cybercrimeprevention@dorset.pnn.police.uk