Half of Switzerland's large companies have been the victim of a cyber attack

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By AFP
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While 45% of large Swiss companies have suffered a cyber attack, only 18% of small businesses say the same, according to a study.

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Almost half of Switzerland's large businesses have been the victim of cyber attacks, often with disastrous consequences, according to a study published on Monday.

A report by SwissVR Monitor found that 45% of Swiss companies with 250 or more employees claim to have suffered at least one cyber attack.

The study, carried out between mid-May and early July by consultancy firm Deloitte and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences, shows that the smaller a company is, the less likely it is to be the target of a serious attack.

The survey, which covered 400 board members of large listed companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), revealed that only 18% of companies with fewer than 50 employees had experienced a significant cyber breach.

"The link between company size and attack frequency is clear: large companies have greater global exposure and a wider potential target area for cybercriminals," the report's authors said.

They also suggested that smaller companies may be less inclined to inform their board of directors about any potential assaults.

Florian Schutz, who is responsible for implementing Switzerland's national cyber protection strategy, reaffirmed that "all companies are at risk, whatever their size or sector". 

Quoted in the report, he said that "many SMEs lack the financial and human resources to take effective cybersecurity measures, so their expertise and infrastructures are limited or non-existent".

Cyber attacks harm customers as well as companies

Overall, the survey showed that companies are not sufficiently prepared to deal with cyber threats.

Only 57% of board members surveyed said that their board had come up with a clear cyber security strategy, and only around a third received regular reports from management on the main risks.

This will be of concern to many business leaders, as cyber attacks can have serious consequences on a company's operations. According to the study, 42% of companies affected have experienced some form of interruption to their business.

Data leaks and disruptions to supply or production chains are also common, sometimes with consequences that aren't just limited to the company.

About 11% of respondents said that customers had been targeted by subsequent attacks.

"In addition to the loss of revenue due to business interruptions, high recovery costs, for example for data restoration, may also be incurred", the survey's authors said.

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