A new study has revealed that Australian SMEs have a low level of knowledge and confidence around business security.

The research from national security patrol network Southern Cross Protection (SXP), conducted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), reveals that 60 per cent of small business owners had suffered a security breach, with losses of up to $20,000 reported by 47 per cent of respondents.

The independent survey showed a further 10.1 per cent had suffered losses from $20,000 to $100,000 and 3 per cent had dealt with losses of more than $100,000.

Respondents identified the most common cause for financial loss as theft of physical assets, with 36.4 per cent having experienced this type of security breach. Another 18.8 per cent of respondent's businesses had been victim to malicious damage, such as vandalism and 8.5 per cent had experienced theft of intellectual property.

Despite this, SMEs do not rate security as a critical factor in the running of a business, with one third of small business owners stating that investing money in security is not important to them. Also, as many as 73 per cents of small business owners confessed to possessing only average to low security knowledge levels.

Southern Cross Protection managing director Patrick Bourke said these results are a clear call to action for both the security industry and wider business community.

"It is alarming that such a large number of business owners and managers reported that they had security breaches or damage resulting in a financial loss in the last 12 months," he said.

"The lack of education around security awareness is something our industry needs to help SMEs tackle head on. To help them develop better understanding of the steps they can take to ensure greater protection for the livelihoods of the owners, employees, business partners and wider local community."