Three-quarters of SMEs want ISPs to protect them from hackers and viruses according to a new survey.

The study, carried out be email filtering company Checkbridge, found that 77 percent of the 770 respondents wanted their ISP to take a more active approach and stop malware before it reaches their infrastructure.

The survey also found that 62 percent of SME users thought that businesses should use more than one product to protect themselves from viruses.

John Turley, managing director of Checkbridge said ISPs should be protecting the lower end of the market.

"The survey highlights a number of points, consumers and small businesses are woefully under-protected by their SMEs, but ISP won't adopt protective measures until it becomes commercially viable for them to do so," said Turley.

The survey also found that home users were unprotected from spam, 57 percent of users did not have anti-spam filters installed on the email clients. They also failed to protect themselves against keyloggers and phishing attacks. Turley urged banks and retailers to collaborate with ISPs to mitigate the threat posed by unprotected consumers and SMEs.

"Consumers and SMEs - and their interaction with corporations - are a neglected and critical link in the national armoury," added Turley. "It is in the banks' and retailers' interests to get consumer protection right – whether it is by approaching government, endorsing those ISPs that offer sufficient protection or by paying for secure telecommunications infrastructure (e.g. VPN) for their client base," added Turley.

61 percent of SMEs were found to be willing to pay $2-3 dollars per user per month to their ISP for anti-virus and anti-spam protection.

Last week, a survey by Novell found that British businesses are losing £8.5 billion a year through the security threat posed by working from home.