In addition, 67% believe they may be out of business in three years if their IT security and compliance doesn’t improve.

The research from on-premise and cloud IT infrastructure and managed service solutions provider, Ultima, found there was a good degree of realism expressed by SMEs.

More than four in 10 acknowledge that spending money on IT security is not a priority for their business, and just over half (55%) acknowledge that they could probably never fully protect their business from IT breaches.

Scott Dodds, chief of Ultima, said: “Our research findings show that most SMEs are acutely aware of the dangers of IT security breaches and the possible financial loss this can lead to. But it’s easy to think that hackers only target large enterprises when this is not the case.

“We know of many SMEs who have had data breaches and lost significant amounts of money that have hurt their ability to do business. Government statistics show the cost of breaches for SMEs is between £75,000 and £310,800.”

He continued: “There are measures and systems that all businesses should put in place to improve their IT security, from simply checking their security software and licenses are-up-to date, to undertaking Cyber Security Assessments and plugging security infrastructure gaps as well as making sure they are GDPR compliant.

“If they don’t do this, with the new GDPR regulations coming into force in May, SMEs could be faced with significant financial penalties for infringing data protection legislation on top of any business financial loss. One way to ensure a greater degree of IT security and compliance is to use robotic process automation as it removes room for human error.”

The One Poll research found SMEs are optimistic that the latest robotic process automation (RPA) technology can be utilised to help improve their IT security. It found that 63% of UK SMEs believe RPA can help improve this situation and 88% will consider using or be investing in RPA to help improve their IT security and data compliance.