Cybersecurity and the impact on SMEs

Technology has become increasingly integral to many small and medium-scale enterprises. From sending emails, to transactions online, to professional networking, SMEs rely on technology to stay connected at all times and conduct their work more efficiently and effectively. This is why when these lines of communication are threatened or compromised, it can have catastrophic effects on the business.
Before delving into Cybersecurity, it is imperative to look at Cybercrime. Cybercrime is what prompted the need for Cybersecurity.
According to Continuum, an IT Management Platform, Cybercrime – also known as net crime – can be described as any criminal activity that involves a computer device and a network. Cybercrime can be in the form of attacks against the computer hardware and software from threats such as viruses, malware, botnets and network intrusion. It can also be financial and can include fraud, theft of financial information and phishing.
For many SMEs, both forms of Cybercrime can be very detrimental to the business health of their companies. In the United States alone, it is estimated that cybercrime costs businesses more than US$12.7billion annually. Whether it is money stolen from your business or it is loss of information and property as a result of cybercrime, your company suffers a great loss.
Unfortunately, as the world becomes more and more interconnected every year – coupled with the new technologies coming up, the opportunities for Cybercrime persist for any daring hacker.
In this age when most SMEs are dependent on the Internet for many things, it is obvious that they have become quite vulnerable to such hackers. It is therefore necessary that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises start coming up with measures to escape the woes of Cybercrime.
Cybersecurity is the cure for Cybercrime. It is a potential activity by which information and other communication systems are protected from and/or defended against unauthorised use or modification or exploitation – or even theft – by certain individuals and criminal organisations.
Why Cybersecurity is important to SMEs
Data Protection Agencies
For Small and Medium Scale Enterprises which keep client data as part of their operations, employing Cybersecurity methods is very imperative. Clients’ data are protected by Data Protection Agencies that give these clients the right to claim financial losses as a result of their information being stolen.
If their data is hacked in any way, the company responsible will be liable to many law-suits that will eventually collapse the business – especially for small businesses which may not be able to survive long legal battles.
Loss of Important Information/financial losses
Business Information, bank account numbers, passwords and other important information are vulnerable to hackers if no proper Cybersecurity protocol is in place. Without such measures, sensitive information that could cause loss in billions and billions of dollars could occur. Your entire company capital could be transferred from your company accounts elsewhere. You end up losing your business as a result.
Damage to company and brand reputation
There is no way any client will trust you after a data security breach. A company that has faced multiple law-suits as result of Cybercrime does not inspire confidence in old clients, much less new clients or investors. Once you’ve been breached, you aren’t seen as responsible or professional. It takes a lot to build client confidence and trust. In the process of doing all these, you end up losing your company.
Actions that SMEs can take to protect their data and systems
Ø  Identify which information is sensitive
You need to know which data you collect is very sensitive and can in no way be compromised. This could be client personal information, company bank accounts, contracts etc. After identifying them, set up strong passwords to protect them.
Ø  Staff Training
Set up training sessions for staff to teach them tips for best practice that will significantly help. Knowledge is power and ignorance is certainly not an excuse; human error is one of the things Cybercriminals use in their operations. If your staff is well-informed, your company is certainly safer.
Ø  Choose a good cloud storage provider
Currently, there are a lot of Cloud Storage Providers including Windows’ One Drive, Apple’s iCloud and Google Drive. However, in order to safeguard your information, you need to find Cloud Storage Providers that offer firewalling, encryption and ransomware threat prevention. Some of these include pCloud, Mega, iCloud as well as those listed earlier.
Ø  Invest in effective anti-malware and anti-virus software
Prevention is certainly better than cure. It’s always good to put measures in place to stop attacks rather than engaging in damage control. Investing in good anti-malware or anti-virus software will go a long way in making your systems more secure.
Ø  Appoint Experienced IT Professionals
You can either employ an experienced IT Professional or engage the service of an IT Firm to help you out with Cybersecurity protocols. It might be costly, but it is a necessary expenditure for a greater good.
There’s no doubt that even as we have massive technological advancements, there will always be more ingenious ways to hack these systems. There is therefore a need for all SMEs to see the need for Cybersecurity in their business, as it will go a long way to build client trust and generally boost confidence in the business. If I believe our business transactions and dealings are secure, I will always come back to do more…
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