An annual survey on crime from the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association found almost unanimous support for a cybersecurity agency to be set up.
The survey of almost 900 SMEs found that almost a third of businesses have been the victim of computer-related crime in the past 12 months, excluding common phishing and spam emails.
There was a sharp rise in the amount of businesses that had become infected with computer viruses, rising to 62% from 42%. Spam emails were the most prevalent online threat.
Isme called on the Government to consider how it could support gardaí in “upskilling and enhancing their capacity in dealing with cyber-fraud and cyber-attacks”.
It also called for the establishment of a cybersecurity information sharing partnership, saying a similar UK model had been set up.
A national cybercrime body should be set up, Isme said, while is called on the Government to “initiate an advertising campaign highlighting the risks of e-crime”.
Isme chief executive Neil McDonnell said: “Crimes against business takes many forms, but the area in which we see most increased activity is cyber-crime. Increased online business activity has expedited and expanded trade, creating a cheaper, more flexible, and far reaching business environment —but with this comes security risk.”
Mr McDonnell said businesses had to take the issue of cybercrime more seriously than ever before.
“Businesses must become more aware of the threats posed by cyberattacks and take proper preventative measures. It is worrying that 20% of businesses surveyed do not change their password settings. This is a very simple preventative measure any business can take.”
He said if the recommendations were put in place, “we would see a significant reduction in the number of cyber-attacks on businesses”.
One of the biggest data breaches ever was revealed last week when global credit rating company Equifax admitted a cybercrime identity theft could possibly have affected 143m US consumers.
In July, consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Dettol, Nurofen tablets and Durex condoms, said it revenue in its second quarter would fall 2% from a year earlier because of a cyberattack attack.