Vodafone UK’s Head of Small and Medium Business Andrew Stevens explains why it is important for SMEs to prioritise cybersecurity and ensure both they and their customers stay protected online.
In recent years, the rate of digital transformation amongst small businesses has accelerated. In fact, our recent ‘Fit for the Future’ report found that 47% of small businesses are now investing in digital services faster than ever before because of the pandemic. But greater technology brings greater risk without proper protection.
Cyber attacks can be devastating for businesses, as they put customers’ and employees’ data in danger, damage your business’ reputation and have significant financial implications. Vodafone’s Cybersecurity report revealed that the average cost of a cyber-attack to a victim is £3,230 – in the current economic climate, it is money that SMEs can’t afford to part with.
Happily, this damage can be prevented if businesses remain vigilant against cyber-attacks. However, we recently published our ‘SME Like Me’ report to better understand how businesses were faring after the pandemic and worryingly found that only 8% of SMEs named cybersecurity as a business priority. In the face of rising costs, there is a concern that cybersecurity will fall further down the priority list as businesses battle with overheads.
It can feel like a daunting challenge to improve your business’ cybersecurity, but there are several ways to tackle the challenge and, ultimately, use tech to protect your business during an economic downturn.
Seek help from cyber experts to stay secure
The UK faces up to 10,000 cyber-attacks every day but, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), only a third have even basic cyber security measures in place. However, interestingly, our SME Like Me report recognises this as a ‘guidance gap’, as this lack of defences is because SMEs are not aware of the solutions available to them.
In today’s digital world, there are a range of cyber resources businesses can use to protect themselves. For example, we set up V-Hub, a free-to-access resource for SMEs that offers expert guidance and training on a number of challenges. If you don’t know your malware from your ransomware, then you’re not alone! Cybersecurity was one of the most popular areas for upskilling for the 130,000 businesses who accessed V-Hub over the past year.
Check your security software is up to date
The FSB’s research found that 40% of SMEs do not regularly update their software, leaving them vulnerable to phishing, malware, fraudulent payment and ransomware attacks via old software without the latest cyber protections. Updating software is a simple task but means you are equipping your business with the latest digital defences. To help you identify when your business is vulnerable to threats and your system needs a refresh, Vodafone offers the Trend Micro’s Worry-Free Service, so cybersecurity can be one less thing to worry about.
For total security, make sure your security package covers all devices
Since the pandemic, SMEs have had to adapt to the world of hybrid. Our Fit for the Future report found that 85% of businesses are benefitting from greater flexibility that technology like mobile devices can afford. One report predicts that there are now 14 billion connected devices on the planet – a figure that is only expected to grow. However, additional devices can mean additional risk and more opportunity for cybercrime to grow in sophistication.
To help protect employees’ devices, we recommend security solutions like Lookout Mobile Security that allows businesses to detect and remediate against threats on mobile and tablet devices through anti-virus, network protection and security – all in one package. It means your teams can stay safely connected across all devices wherever they choose to work.
Greater government support welcomed
Although it is important for SMEs to take control of their business’ security, in the face of rising costs, the onus should not solely sit on business owners’ shoulders. A helpful solution would be for the Government to introduce a reduced 5% VAT rate on cybersecurity products to ensure that even amid rising costs, businesses continue to stay protected and resilient. The FSB estimated that SMEs contributed £2.3tn to the UK economy last year, so it is in the Government’s interests to help them to stay resilient, secure and able to drive UK growth.