Service providers who want to stay ahead of the competition need to know exactly how to provide outstanding IT support services for SMEs. Modern businesses have complex digital requirements and it’s important for an IT support firm to not only cover a wide range of IT services, but also to have in-depth knowledge about each aspect of an SME’s digital infrastructure.
As companies move towards a digital setup and more companies are interlinked through digital mediums, the possibilities of a cyber-attack are much higher. For instance, the recent security breach at Target was done indirectly, whereby a smaller third-party business who works with Target was infiltrated by the attacker, and their credentials were used to move into the main Target network.
Small businesses can act as a gateway to larger firms and are easy pickings to hackers, as they don’t often focus on digital security since they assume they won’t be targeted. According to forecasts, by 2021 cyber-attacks will have a global cost of nearly $6 trillion, with the majority of those being small businesses.
This problem is only enhanced by the fact that not only are SMEs more likely to be a victim of a cyber-attack, but they are also the least likely to recover from such a problem. Many SMEs which are victim to a successful cyber-attack are found out of business within 6 months. Larger businesses that have been hit hard by cyber-attacks cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.
Small business owners are not experts when it comes to cybersecurity, and neither do they have the capital with which they can employ an IT team specifically for security. To safeguard their business information, they rely heavily on their IT support provider to create a system that not only ensures the safety of their business, but does so in a cost-effective manner. Cybersecurity needs to be managed at multiple levels and how an IT expert develops a good security setup for an SME will depend on the type of business it is and the operations and infrastructure they have in place.
The recent pandemic of 2020 has caused even more business owners to reposition their firms on e-commerce platforms and invest in digital solutions for internal operations so their reliance on physical workspaces and markets are reduced. As these new entrants are so focused on sales and marketing online, they often forget that this is a medium with its own threats and dangers which they need to safeguard themselves from. This fast-growing pool of new online businesses is an easy target for cybercriminals, and the need for quality security support from IT services is in high demand.
These are four fundamental steps SMEs can take to help ensure the safety of their business – and their customers – until they can get tailored cybersecurity solutions.
Protocols aren’t only for large companies with complex IT networks that need an entire team to manage; even a small family business can have a set of IT security protocols in place for every employee to adhere to. What makes a protocol effective is the extent to which employees actively implement the rules. This requires thorough training. The protocol needs to be clear, easy to understand, and everyone needs to be aware of exactly how they need to implement these best practices.
This should include how business, customer, and vendor information is stored and what the team needs to do in the case the system is compromised. They should ensure every account, computer, and mobile device has strong passwords and – wherever possible – two-factor authentication is used. Passwords should be changed regularly. If a new security feature is launched or a more secure solution is available, they must be quick to upgrade or shift.
Whether it’s a work device or a personal computer, business owners must make sure every employees’ device is updated regularly. Every device can be a potential infiltration point for a cyber-criminal. The operating system, browsers, software and apps should be updated as soon as an update is available.
For software that’s installed on business computers, an employee should oversee checking for updates at least once a month, particularly for security software. Cloud-based software is generally updated by the service provider automatically, but if there is a dedicated person for this task, they can also double-check that everything is updated.
Backup the Backup
While cyber threats can involve stolen data and make the most headlines, device failure and system crashes are a more common problem that leads to expensive data losses. All information on business computers and devices needs to be backed up regularly. You can use a cloud solution, hard disks, USBs, or whatever suits your needs. Have an extra copy just in case the backup is also lost or damaged; in fact, having two backups in two different mediums is the best way to go.
The backups should also be encrypted and secured with a password.
Authorized Personnel Only
Only those who are trusted and relevant to the business should have access to business devices and networks. Moreover, within the organization, only those who are related to the job at hand should have access to certain areas of the network. Account access should be set according to the job description of the employee and, ideally, everyone should have their own computer for work. Make sure the internet connection is secured and regularly monitored to keep unwanted visitors and free riders out. If remote workers are logging in from public networks, ensure their connections are secure, and devices are clean of any unwanted spyware or malware.