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Seven out of every 10 small firms risk losing their business because they are not equipped to cope with security threats from viruses, fraud and system failure, new research suggests.

According to a study by the National Computing Centre (NCC), 70 per cent acknowledge this risk despite agreeing that IT is critical to their business.

The NCC pointed out that some 15,000 new computer viruses were discovered last year, yet nearly half of the businesses questioned have no plan in place to deal with their threat.

A fifth of businesses reported they experienced online security problems in 2005, and nearly half believe it could happen again this year.

The NCC said that small businesses, and even one-man bands, are particularly prone to losing their business because many believe they do not face the same risks as larger companies.

Business Link and the NCC announced they are working jointly to develop a series of tools and guides for anyone starting or growing a small business that will enable entrepreneurs to carry out risk assessments and reduce the time and costs associated with managing an efficient and secure IT system.

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