Why Small and Medium Sized Businesses Should Embrace IT Security
IT security, particularly in the e-commerce sector, has suddenly become incredibly important. Cybersecurity is no longer optional, and businesses, both big and small, can’t afford to ignore the importance of digital security. The internet is awash with a limitless variety of tools and services selling much-needed IT security. You’ll find data encryption services, network security managers, anti-malware products, and firms offering managed IT security services.
Why is all this happening now? What has changed in the digital, economic, political and social landscapes to warrant such worldwide concern over IT security? Let’s explore this phenomenon and learn what IT security means to small and medium businesses and why it’s important.
The Rise of Cybercrime
The popularity and widespread use of the internet are partly to blame for the rise in cybercrime. Thanks to information technology, the world is more data-dependent than ever before. Information, in fact, has become a valuable resource in every industry, which is why hackers are always looking to get their hands on any bits of useful data.
According to a recent report by the Identity Theft Resource Centre, over 198 million sensitive records were stolen in 2018. Across the board, cybercrime is on the rise from ransomware, cyberbullying, phishing, and even newer threats such as cryptojacking.
And don’t assume that these threats only affect large corporations. The 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon shows that 43% of all cyber-attacks target small and medium businesses. In 2018, cyber-attacks on small businesses went up 424% over the previous year.
Most SMEs are inadequately equipped to deal with high-level threats, making them easy pickings for cybercriminals. Some business leaders don’t even appreciate the need for robust digital security measures.
Staggering Costs and Damages of Data Breaches
As cybercrime rises, so do the cost and damage implications of successful cyber-attacks. The monetary cost of a single data breach may include the cost of downtime, ransom, lawsuits and fines. The Ponemon Institute reported that a data breach could carry an all-inclusive price tag of up to USD 3 million. Equally worrying, cyber-attack incidences cost businesses an average of USD 200,000.
The 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon shows that 43% of all cyber-attacks target small and medium businesses. In 2018, cyber-attacks on small businesses went up 424% over the previous year.
The monetary cost alone is enough to drive most SMEs out of business. In fact, 60% of victimised SMEs shut down within only six months. But the hardest-felt blow comes in the form of other losses. A business can lose all its brand’s credibility and trustworthiness after a data breach.
Customers and staff members entrust businesses to protect their personal and sensitive information. Once this trust is broken, it’s nearly impossible to rebuild. Even without any monetary losses, this has led to the collapse of many companies, with some resulting to rebranding or downsizing. It’s impossible to quantify the actual cost of data breaches and cyber-attacks accurately.
Compliance with Legal Guidelines and Policies
National and international governments and regulatory bodies have realized the need to enforce standardized data protection and privacy policies to reduce cybercrime risks. These cybersecurity laws and policies place the burden of protecting consumer data on the business.
Just about every country or region has a set of data security policies that are enforceable under international, regional or national law. In Australia, data privacy and protection policies are regulated and enforced through a combination of federal, state and territorial legislation. Some of these laws include the Information Privacy Act (2014), Privacy and Data Protection Act (2014) and many more.
The European Union has the recently appoint General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP), and the U.S. also have various data laws under both state and federal governments.
Remember that data laws apply to both the citizens of the region and foreign businesses operating in the region as well. Violation of most data regulations attracts hefty fines and penalties, including closure of the business and denial or permits and legal rights.
What’s the Solution?
Clearly, the consequences of ignoring cybersecurity as a business are dire. There is really no need to risk your entire business and its aspirations to cybercriminals. Digital security analysts say that most cyber-attacks and data breaches are actually preventable. All that’s needed is a secure defence system.
IT security armour, however, goes way beyond installing antiviruses. Shielding your IT infrastructure from cyber-attacks calls for a robust security strategy and digital security framework. It requires an audit of your entire system, analysis of potential vulnerabilities and implementation of proactive security protocols. Security measures should include sensitising your workforce and investing in dependable backup and disaster recovery facilities.