As we leave the 2010s behind and set sail towards new unknowns that await on the horizon of the 2020s, those of us that have any sort of affiliation with information technology will definitely remember how intense the last decade has been in this sector. This intensity particularly applies to cybersecurity concerns for small businesses. Cybersecurity has been tested beyond its limits, with the non-stop onslaught of cyberthreats. The global issue of rising cybercrime in general, has been troubling equally both the largest and the smallest businesses.
In the last few years the world has encountered enormous data breaches. Persistent disruption and hacking have resulted in billions of dollars of damage resulting from cybercrime. With lockdowns and remote working now normalized, ‘malicious actors’ (a.k.a hackers) have are the kid in the candy store -surrounded by delicious sensitive data to steal and disrupt, as well as gain dominance by blackmailing everyone from public healthcare to the highest tiers of government.
The 2010s were marked with innovations in IT, transitions to new systems and the rise of digital entrepreneurship. This digital transformation (better yet, evolution) and transition period will now bring tens of thousands of small businesses and jobs to the industry. With that in mind, it is really important at this juncture that we explore security for these small businesses in particular. Cybersecurity for small businesses is going to be a very hot topic in 2021 and moving forward into the foreseeable future.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a portmanteau of the words cyber (digital, the internet) and security -essentially pertaining to digital security, or online security. The need for cybersecurity has developed in parallel with the increasing complexity of the internet web. It isn’t only the complexity of the internet that has warranted so many cybersecurity solutions though, more importantly, it is the fact that now more than half of the globe is online. Furthermore, any business wishing to succeed today needs to have a digital presence, which means relying on online data storage and transactions -all of which carry risks and require cybersecurity solutions.
How Important is Cybersecurity for Small Businesses?
Small businesses today are very influential, and their presence is invaluable. The importance of small businesses as drivers of the economy in the EU, the USA and the rest of the world is clear. Let’s list only a few influential small businesses with revenue in the tens of millions or more. These businesses do not employ more than a maximum of a few hundred people, some much less;
- Evergreen (real estate investment sector)
- Inspira Marketing (marketing sector)
- Interworks (IT consulting sector)
- AM Transport Services (logistics sector)
- Camp Gladiator (sports sector)
The concept of ‘the smaller the better’ really looks like it is here to stay in the next decade. No more do we live in a world of just large corporations, the industry is much more democratised and the workload is spread out much wider than before. With much less monopoly, more diversification and fair opportunity this means that small businesses are now in demand. This unfortunately means that they have got the attention of the cybercriminal sharks.
For the future to come, it looks like small business ventures will be; consulting, blogging, online tutoring and design services – all of which will be in demand. Why small business, though? Well, let’s look at some advantages small businesses have over large ones;
- Have better customer insight because they work closely with people
- Higher innovation and disruption levels
- Improve on technologies/products that larger companies have established
- Better employee satisfaction and recognition due to smaller size
- Less bureaucracy
- Space for creativity
- A much more personal touch, with better customer service
- Small business culture, that is more closely knit and passionate
- Small businesses can better specialise in certain areas
Securing Small Businesses Against Cybersecurity Threats
What can a small business (or SME) do to keep serving its important customers and adding value and innovation to the industry, without being destroyed by cybercriminals? Here are some general security measures to take into account;
- Be wary of phishing attacks customized for smaller businesses
- Device security is important for small businesses and their employees
- Small businesses reliant on cloud storage must always backup data
- Use of security software on all levels and devices
- Extremely destructive ransomware attacks focus on small businesses
What kind of software do small businesses need to have in their repertoire?
- Antivirus software
- Endpoint protection
- Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs
- Password management
- Secure cloud storage
Small businesses today are heavily reliant on things such as cloud storage, and employees usually have multiple personal devices that are used remotely, and are as such at risk. Because of the much smaller revenue that small businesses make, they often do not have the same beefed up network security, or huge dedicated IT security teams. For large businesses, the insurance is also very solid, so damage here and there is not a large issue and can be waived.
With these security measures in mind, small businesses will be prepared for the new decade and much less susceptible to cybercrime.