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Cybersecurity for SMBs starts at the endpoint

Gone are the halcyon days when keeping your small business secure meant keeping track of your big key ring and having a good relationship with your banker down the street. These days, small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) have a lot on their plate. Navigating health care insurance options, competing with big box stores that move in on hometown territory, and creating an online presence to expand their customer base keeps SMBs hustling in myriad directions...

By Steve Lowing, Director, Product Management, Promisec

Gone are the halcyon days when keeping your small business secure meant keeping track of your big key ring and having a good relationship with your banker down the street. These days, small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) have a lot on their plate. Navigating health care insurance options, competing with big box stores that move in on hometown territory, and creating an online presence to expand their customer base keeps SMBs hustling in myriad directions. In the past few years, a surge in cybercrime has given these busy entrepreneurs yet another challenge to face. With limited IT and financial resources, how can they protect their business from viruses, criminals, hackers, and information leaks?

Small business is a thriving backbone of the U.S. economy; one in two American workers are employed in a small business. Globally, SMBs account for almost 65% of GDP, representing 90% of all businesses and employing 90% of the global workforce. Collectively, this represents a lot of valuable assets — not just money, but intellectual property, customer data, and infrastructure. Until recently, many SMBs assumed they were safely flying under the radar, and that the risk of being targeted by hackers was not significant enough to warrant any significant investment in cybersecurity. This uncertainty and lack of awareness around the risks of doing business in the Internet age represents a major vulnerability. More than half of the SMB respondents in a recent Ponemon Institute study said they had experienced a data breach; an alarming 44% of those compromised could not identify the root cause.

According to the National CyberSecurity Alliance, 73% of SMBs say a trusted Internet is critical to their success, but almost 87% do not have a formal written Internet security policy for their employees, let alone sufficient security technology in place. Strong security policy and education reinforced by endpoint security software that detects malware, auto-updates patches, and monitors online activity has been proven to be a vital component of SMB success. It is estimated that 60% of small business will close within six months of a cyber attack; SMBs literally cannot afford to ignore these risks any longer.

Unfortunately, hackers are more aware of the vulnerabilities than those who run SMBs; many have turned their attention away from heavily fortified big business toward less-protected prey; cyber attacks aimed at small businesses have escalated sharply in the past 3 years. SMBs with big name clients are enticing to hackers looking for back door access; many SMBs are now racing to find feasible security solutions because their bigger partners demand it as a condition of doing business together.

Banking Trojans and phishing attacks can quickly wipe out a business’ account, and banks often refuse to compensate or insure against such losses. Malware, viruses, customer payment card data theft, corporate espionage, and employee misbehavior—the list of risks goes on and on. Moreover, the rapid rise of BYOD programs and personal mobile devices in the workplace has intensified the need for cybersecurity measures in every type and size of business. This proliferation of an endless variety of endpoints creates a complex of entry points for cybercriminals that complicates prevention, detection, and remediation efforts.

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Fortunately, the IT security industry is now responding to the specific needs of SMBs. Cloud-based endpoint security systems are making solutions more affordable and approachable. Simple web-based interfaces, scalable per-user pricing models, and agentless solutions mean that you can protect your business even if you don’t have a significant IT department or budget. These solutions are continuously updated to cover emerging threats, and designed to grow with your business. They automate compliance with your cybersecurity policies by monitoring all the endpoints in your enterprise: detecting malware, disabled clients, and outdated patches; finding unauthorized applications running on your systems; enabling you to create and print customized inspection reports; and providing you with real-time, actionable intelligence so that you can fix breaches and limit business impact.

Owning your own business is the American Dream. Don’t make it easy for hackers to turn it into a nightmare. You don’t leave your office unlocked when you go home for the day, so don’t leave your digital assets out in the open. Endpoint security solutions protect your hard-earned assets, your employees’ livelihoods, your partnerships, and your valuable customers.