By Zakir Hussain
Technology for MSMEs: Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have fast-tracked their digital transformation as a priority with the pandemic, but with limited experience in adopting new technology and its security features, along with the massive shift to remote working due to lockdown, has made them vulnerable to an increased threat of cyberattacks especially phishing, ransomware, and social media threats.
Cyberattacks can come in several shapes and sizes, but the most common types of attacks are malware and phishing. Malware is a term used to describe malicious software, including spyware, viruses, and ransomware. Phishing is a way of sending false communications that will appear from a source, usually through email. The objective is to steal sensitive organisational data or to install malware on the victim’s machine. Cyberattacks have the potential to paralyse any business operations. In fact, in case of a severe security breach, SMEs experience some downtime and it can take a while to recover from these attacks because they have limited resources for response and recovery. Hence, it is always better to be prepared than sorry. A general misconception is that cybercriminals would target larger organisations than smaller organisations with less assets. In fact, it is the opposite as SMEs are easier pickings for hackers due to their lack of cybersecurity. The key to good cybersecurity is to understand that threats are constantly evolving, which requires businesses to be alert at all times.
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Some of the effective strategies to help SMEs improve on cybersecurity are as mentioned below.
- Organisations should conduct regular awareness training sessions to ensure employees can identify and avoid dangerous online behavior and threats.
- Implementing security policies that limit users ability to install unlicensed software on work computers and use multifactor authentication towards protecting the business.
- Organisations can use multiple monitoring and anti-malware tools to protect their networks as it would help them to improve detection rates of any suspicious activity.
- Organisations should periodically perform software security upgrades to ensure that the latest security patches are rolled out across the entire organisation.
- A recovery system for organisation critical applications should be placed to reduce the risk of cyberattacks caused by downtime.
- Organisations should implement a robust backup system and automate them which will periodically take backups for any loss of data.
However, a lot of SMEs lack the budget to implement best security practices, which also restricts their ability to hire skilled/experienced manpower. But, as SMEs migrate to the cloud, they must cope with the added complexity and challenges which come from working in the hybrid ecosystem.
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Having said that, SMEs can no longer delay investing in cybersecurity if they want to keep their business safe and operational. With the threats getting more sophisticated and intense, SMEs need top-notch IT security solutions to prevent, detect and respond to these attacks. It is also important that the security infrastructure can address SME-specific risks and vulnerabilities.
It is expected that cyber threats are going to grow in number in the coming years as more businesses go digital. Hackers have realised that SMEs are easier targets as compared to large ones with inadequate cybersecurity. SMEs need to understand the importance of implementing cybersecurity as a priority for their business, instead of as an afterthought. Ignoring cybersecurity is as good as leaving your door open to unwanted threats.
Zakir Hussain is the CEO of BD Software Distribution. Views expressed are the author’s own.
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