Almost half of all small businesses are unprepared for a cyber-attack, according to research.

Despite well-publicised recent attacks, accountancy firm Smith and Williamson claims many would not be able to cope should they find themselves in a similar situation.

Fergus Caheny, partner and head of technology, said: “For an investor, a business that has thought about their cyber security and has more control of their tech estate can be more attractive for investment.

WE ARE HUNTING FOR THE UK'S FINEST TECH FIRSTS - AND WE NEED YOUR HELP

“It shows that they take these things seriously and is a reflection of the culture and values the company has.

“A well thought out, and developed, cyber security plan tends to translate to a business that can identify and react appropriately to the many factors affecting their business.

“Control of their tech estate is key for any well-managed company. It is now, and increasingly in the future, one way for an investor to get to the heart of a business and ascertain the true nature of the management and the culture within.”

“We wouldn’t expect all early stage businesses to be spending extravagant amounts on developing a plan and high-tech software.

"However, the owners and managers should be able to demonstrate that they have thought of the problems and have a plan should the worst happen. Equally we would expect the tech investment to scale and grow as the business does.”

General Data Protection Regulation, which takes effect from 25 May 2018, will affect almost every business that keeps or uses personal data.

The regulation aims to give individuals more control over how their information is used, and imposes requirements for organisations to have cyber security rules and plans in place.

Consequences for failing to comply will be very substantial fines.

Fergus added: “The issue of cyber security is not going away. Investors need to be confident that a business is prepared otherwise this could jeopardise existing and future investment.

“A company who does not have a full handle on their tech estate now is in a race against time to ensure they do before next May.”