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Data Security for SMEs has become a widely discussed topic over the last decade. Before, small and medium organisations would not be so dependent on technology and hadn’t had much to offer criminals. This made most business owners in the SME space keep a low guard regarding cybercrime and underestimate the impact of this threat.
Today we operate in a different reality: where small and medium organisations are the primary targets of cybercrime. Despite that, many of these businesses still don’t take cyber security as seriously as they should. We rarely find businesses without insurance and a secure lock in their doors, but we constantly see companies without a proper cybersecurity strategy.
Related Article: Cybersecurity: What every business owner should know
The odds of being struck by cybercrime today are higher than of a physical invasion or a natural disaster – such as fire or flood. It’s no longer a matter of if you become a target, but when. And being prepared for this moment can mean the world for an SME. This is why we’re raising awareness of this threat and spreading the word about the importance of data security for SMEs. Read on to learn more!
There are many reasons why data security for SMEs is becoming such a big deal. The overall cybercrime scene has been growing at an alarming rate over the years – and it gained even more power with the Covid 19 pandemic.
Businesses are today more reliant on technology than ever before. Even companies that don’t sell their products/services online still need technology to process payments, manage their customers or handle procurement. And each of these channels opens new doors for criminals.
Read: How Backup and Disaster Recovery Protects SMEs
Cybercriminals have multiple ways to profit from stealing data or disrupting a business’ operations. But why not focus on the wealthiest enterprises?
Large organisations could mean more money for criminals, but they also have much stronger defences in place. It takes a considerable amount of work to disrupt and steal from an enterprise, and the risks are also higher. They tend to have robust cyber security solutions in place, with teams of professionals continually closing any gaps. If a crime does occur, banks are much faster to track and recover the money when it is moved in large amounts.
Cybercriminals have then realised that data security for small and medium companies was basically non-existent. They could get in and out without being noticed and take whatever they wanted, with no risks. Hackers could shut down a company and demand a ransom to resume operations – and so many companies have suffered from these tragic attacks.
Fortunately, companies are now learning the importance of an adequate cyber security strategy and readying their defences. If you’re still not convinced of the relevance of data security for SMEs, let’s discuss the most prominent risks faced by businesses today.
Cybercrime poses risks to every business that relies on technology. They can affect your operations, staff, or even your suppliers and partners. Nevertheless, the most common target criminals seek today is your data. This is why data security for SMEs is such a big deal, even if you don’t believe this data has much use for anyone else. We’ll discuss some of the ways a criminal can harm your business by stealing your data:
Most cyberattacks today do not cause direct financial damage! This means that the majority of attacks will not directly steal money from your account but will still disrupt your business in significant ways. The first loss you’ll probably incur is the downtime trying to recover your data and systems – which, should you not have a reliable business continuity plan, could take very long!
If the data stolen possesses high value in your industry, you should expect criminals seeking to sell it to your competitors. If not your competitors, they will definitely sell it on the dark web. It’s a hard-to-reach part of the internet where all sorts of shady transactions occur. When your data becomes available in such a place, you immediately become a target for Identity Theft – which we’ll explain below.
Identity Theft is one of the most prolific cybercrimes of the decade, and we have several pieces of content dedicated to it. Read The What, How and Why of Identity Theft for a detailed explanation or download our Full Guide.
In short, Identity Theft consists of stealing and using a person’s identity for nefarious purposes. The thief will use the information obtained about someone to pretend to be that person. They usually do it to trick coworkers or financial institutions and get money on the victim’s behalf. With the right information, they could open credit lines, bank accounts, health insurance, among others, in someone’s name and take advantage of them.
This crime can cause tremendous headaches for everyone involved. If your data is stolen, criminals might be able to steal the identity of your employees, customers, partners and stakeholders! Worse, they’ll likely use this data against yourself and the ones around you. Don’t waste time and learn how to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft.
You’ve learned about the importance of Data Security for SMEs and some of the ways your data can be used against you. The following implications should become more evident, despite being indirect consequences of a cyberattack, such as reputational damage.
Today, businesses that suffer a data breach in Europe and several countries worldwide are required to report that breach. This causes several implications, but it acts mainly as a security procedure that’ll allow people and organisations to protect their accounts before cybercriminals can exploit them. Therefore, a company that is breached due to a cyberattack must admit that it was breached and provide as much detail as possible about when and how the breach occurred.
This shines a light on the fact that the company could not protect their data and raises questions about the organisation’s competency. Depending on the industry, such mistake could be lethal. Customers are less likely to forgive such flaws in the business of finance or IT, for example – as we discuss in the article Why are Regular Risk Assessments non-negotiable for Financial Services Companies. And if the breaches are recurrent, every new report brings the organisation’s reputation further down.
The last risk regarding data security for SMEs that we’ll discuss in this article are the fines that could be charged if a business does not take the necessary steps to protect their data. Depending on your industry and location, you could be subject to several fines and penalties.
The most famous of such regulations in Europe is the GDPR, which implies fees ranging from €20 million to 4% of the annual turnover – whichever is higher! There are known cases of businesses that were fined in recent years. For an SME, these values could be much higher than you’d expect to lose in a cyberattack, so there is even more reason to take this seriously.
Read: Governance, Risk & Compliance Fines and Regulations
Auditors are increasingly discussing cyber security postures and investigating breaches, so it’s best to have a robust strategy in place and avoid any headaches in such cases!
We hope you’ve learned how vital is data security for SMEs in 2022. It’s an increasingly relevant topic, and every trend indicates it’ll continue to grow in importance as years go by and the economy develops. Protecting your data means protecting your business from cybercrime and ensuring your organisation is resilient against such threats.
Read: How can Cyber Resilience Protect SMEs in Ireland?
To secure your company, you’ll need specialised tools and procedures. Having the bare minimum is no longer enough! You’ll need a robust security solution with multiple layers of protection. Your employees should be trained and informed, and your business must have a business continuity plan in place, with a tried-and-tested disaster recovery strategy.
Sorting these things by yourself may not be easy, so consider hiring a specialist IT partner like us to smoothen this process. Our team will be happy to talk, understand your needs and offer a tailored solution. We’ve been working with SMEs in several industries since 2002. Read our Case Studies or Book a Call to learn more!
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