QBE highlights growing cybersecurity concerns among Hong Kong SMEs

On the bright side, cyber awareness and defensive measures rose

QBE highlights growing cybersecurity concerns among Hong Kong SMEs


By Roxanne Libatique

A newly released survey by QBE Hong Kong has revealed a notable increase in cybersecurity incidents affecting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country, with the rate of cyber events climbing from 24% in 2023 to 30% in 2024.

Conducted from December 2023 to January 2024, the QBE Hong Kong SME Survey involved 616 companies and focused on evaluating operational risks including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), and workplace safety and health (WSH).

Increase in cyber awareness among Hong Kong SMEs

The survey reported a rise in cyber awareness and defensive measures among SMEs. This year, 48% of businesses acknowledged being well-informed about cyber threats, a significant increase from 36% the previous year.

Additionally, the percentage of SMEs lacking any cybersecurity defences fell from 16% to 11%. The primary cybersecurity concerns identified were data breaches, phishing, smishing, and malware attacks.

Andex Fung (pictured, left), head of SME segment, Asia for QBE, commented on the persistent and evolving nature of cyber threats that now affect a broader spectrum of businesses. He pointed out that 62% of SMEs have adopted software solutions for cybersecurity, and a higher number, 71%, are now considering purchasing cybersecurity insurance, up from 49% in the previous period.

“The increased number of cyber events experienced by Hong Kong SMEs underscores the size and scale of the challenge – that no company is fully immune from such threats, with perpetrators now targeting businesses of all sizes and from across all sectors,” he said.

Hong Kong SMEs’ insights on AI

Despite concerns about AI’s potential to displace workers, the majority of the survey’s participants do not view AI as a threat to employment. Only 21% anticipate that AI could replace human jobs within their companies. Nonetheless, apprehensions about AI’s adverse effects remain, with concerns focusing on data security breaches, privacy invasions, and AI-triggered cyber attacks.

Hong Kong SMEs’ commitment to enhancing workplace well-being

The survey also highlighted an increased commitment from employers to enhance workplace well-being, with a focus on mental health.

The majority of surveyed SMEs reported no safety incidents last year, and mental health awareness is gaining traction, with 94% of respondents acknowledging its significance. Enhanced support includes more flexible working hours, improved health benefits, and the distribution of care packages.

Regarding employee compensation insurance (ECI), there has been a notable improvement in awareness, with 76% of SMEs now fully aware of their ECI obligations, an increase from last year’s 55%. Communication about insurance coverage and benefits has also improved significantly, with 90% of businesses now effectively communicating this information to their employees.

Lei Yu (pictured, right), CEO for North Asia at QBE, noted the role of QBE's claims specialists in providing guidance on preventing workplace injuries and enhancing overall workplace wellness.

“QBE has experienced claims specialists dedicated to helping Hong Kong SMEs implement robust workplace injury management programmes. Our team of specialists advise business owners on how to prevent work-related injuries, including physical and mental wellness, while at the same time, enable QBE to realise our purpose of building a resilient future for local SMEs, and ensure that these businesses thrive through healthy and productive workplace environments,” she said.

Another recent QBE survey unveiled Hong Kong SMEs’ main concerns this year

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