How SMEs can become cyber-safe with a managed service provider

Ross MacKenzie

It may come as a surprise to a large number of SMEs that they are as much at threat from hackers as larger organizations. Indeed, Verizon's 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report says SMEs account for 58% of malware attacks and, in reality, an SME's lack of size often makes it an easy target as hackers can more effortlessly take advantage of its failure to properly protect infrastructure.

Yet, unless you're a large enterprise with your own in-house IT department, it's more than likely that you don't have the deep pocket budgets or human resources to run a full-time IT resource. Certainly, it's true that when it comes to IT, the times have definitely changed over recent years so that it is no longer economically viable, or sensible, for an SME to run a safe, secure and full-servicing, in-house IT operation.

The massively evolving cyber security landscape is a major reason why in-house IT functions no longer make sense for the SME – that is unless they want to risk opening themselves up to potentially catastrophic data-breaches. Companies who want to guard against the risks are also at the mercy of persistently rising costs of cyber-security measures and the need to manage them.

To operate safely in these dangerous times, an outsourced managed service provider should be among your mainline of defenses.

In selecting a managed service provider, opt for one that has a skilled cyber security background, one that can assess the specific risks to your business and provide, and manage, the necessary layers and levels to minimize data breaches. Also opt for one that can provide training for your own staff – not your IT function, but all the employees because often the weakest link in any cyber-attack comes from within the workforce. This is due to lack of awareness and understanding of the risks.

Ask the staff of most SMEs and they would probably same small businesses aren't targeted by hackers, that wifi is secure when it has a password, that personal devices don't need to be secured at work and that strong passwords are all they need to keep their work safe. And in all cases, they'd be wrong.

Training in identifying and resisting potential attacks, often purporting to be genuine emails, ought to be mandatory. It does well to bear in mind that analysts estimate that human error is behind 18% of data breaches in Saudi Arabia and the UAE!

All this may require a change of mindset on the SME's behalf. That is to cease looking at providers as simply technology installers, but to view them instead as trusted advisers and a vital extension of the business. A managed service provider should get to know your business goals, the threats you could possibly face, then recommend the defences required and most cost-effective route to installing and maintaining, even upgrading them to secure the business for the future.

It does, of course, make huge sense to have in place a cyber-security plan which will detail where you are most vulnerable, how this can be addressed and by whom. It's much like having an insurance policy in place and will help prevent and mitigate issues as quickly as possible if a cyber attack takes place and productivity is compromised. Business need to asses their risks and match policy accordingly.

That's where a managed service provider, like Cobweb, comes in – ready to advise and assist in drafting your plan.

A trusted expert partner, such as Cobweb, can take a look at your business and determine the best course of action when it comes to protecting it from cyberattack. It will be money well spent when judged against the fact that data breaches cost companies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE $163 per lost, or stolen record!

Moving to cloud services, such as Office 365 and Azure, is the best way to stay secure and productive and with new Microsoft datacenters opening this year in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain, the time to make the transition couldn't be better.

Good security is much like an insurance policy but one where you have mitigated risk. Industry analysts say malicious or criminal attacks are behind 61% of databreaches in Saudi Arabia and the UAE so it makes sense to guard against them.

In the meantime, stay safe!

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