Almost half of Irish small and medium businesses have experienced multiple cyber attacks in the last three years, according to a new study.

The study from Microsoft and Vodafone states that the average financial loss per business was €8,500 or €2.3 billion across the industry.

The survey of 250 business owners showed that of those that reported a cyber breach, 43% said they had experienced up to five attacks in the last three years.

Some 60% of SMEs said they felt unprepared for an attack, while 34% said they had reduced their spend on cyber security.

"Our research shows that for small and medium businesses to stay resilient and insulated from risk, security needs to be front and foremost in their strategic plans," said Sinéad Bryan, Managing Director of Vodafone Ireland Business.

The study showed that digitalisation during the pandemic helped drive revenues at small and medium businesses but that the rate of digitalisation has now started to decrease.

"As the cornerstone of Ireland's economy and a core driver of post-pandemic economic recovery, it is of the utmost importance that small and medium businesses maintain a position of digital perseverance," said Anne Sheehan, General Manager of Microsoft Ireland.