Cybersecurity is an area where small businesses excel


For small enterprises all throughout the world, the last 12 months have been a nightmare. Many people have used the year to practice agility, innovation, and adoption of digital habits that have progressed from wish lists to must-have lists.

In recent months, we’ve witnessed a substantial spike in demand for certain technologies as firms of all kinds have embraced a work-from-anywhere strategy. As in-person workspaces reopen, small company executives have a few things on their minds: hybrid work environments, bolstered infrastructure, and improved cybersecurity have all become priorities.

Study of SMB Security Outcomes in 2021

And the final piece of the puzzle, cybersecurity, was the subject of a Cisco-sponsored poll completed, evaluated, and released at the end of last year. In this comprehensive study, we polled 4,800 businesses of all sizes from around the world about their security measures and the results they achieve. Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) account for about 20% of responses, and they face specific security challenges that their bigger counterparts do not.

Is that attitude to cybersecurity, as well as the unique issues they encounter, represented in the poll responses? Simply put, the answer was yes.

With the 2021 Security Outcomes Study for Small and Midsize Businesses, we’ve taken those findings and reduced them down for our SMB audience, creating Cliff’s Notes version (remember those?) of sorts to get to the survey results that resonate most with our small business target (SMBs).

What lessons did we learn for our tiny businesses? The findings may surprise you, as there are a few areas in which small businesses thrive at cybersecurity. Hackers and other ne’er-do-wells are opportunists, and you don’t have to be a multibillion-dollar corporation to be subject to cyber-attacks. Similarly, having best-in-class security protection against vulnerabilities does not necessitate large IT budgets or staff.

So, according to the 2021 Security Outcomes Study for SMBs, where are SMBs leading the way in cybersecurity? What are the most important outcomes for small firms to achieve in order to be successful? Is it possible to have too much wine or chocolate?

SMB security is taking care of business, according to the results of our poll. Would you believe that small businesses can teach big businesses a thing or two about security? True, the research reveals that small and midsized organizations’ security and general business operations are more tightly interwoven. This relationship assists SMBs in developing security strategies that support the business, which is one of the three pillars we focused on when developing the study: enable the business, manage risk, and operate efficiently.

Here are the main findings from the survey for small firms in each of those three categories.

1. Prepare for the worst-case scenario while hoping for the best.

The need for a rock-solid disaster recovery plan for businesses of all sizes has been underlined in recent months. Prompt disaster recovery capabilities and fast incident response were the major differentiators of success between SMBs and their larger counterparts among the 25 security practices we assessed.

How can you turn this into a competitive advantage for your small business? “Plan for the worse, but hope for the best,” as the old adage goes. Prepare a recovery strategy for “when,” not “if,” a security breach occurs. While SMBs might not encounter security breaches as frequently as their larger counterparts, the proportionate impact on an SMB’s bottom line is severe.

Let’s look at the math in more detail. An average cyber incident costs a $100 billion company $292 thousand dollars or 0.000003% of annual revenues. A small business with annual revenues of roughly $100K, on the other hand, is likely to lose $24K or more, or nearly a fourth of its earnings. In terms of overall influence, that’s a significant difference.

Being proactive rather than reactive can help SMBs reduce risk and the total impact of a possible security event, which is a winning strategy.

2. Make an investment in cutting-edge technology.

The threat landscape for security is constantly changing. It’s also critical to invest in cutting-edge technology that keeps up with it. Small businesses that kept their technology up to date were more successful in each of the 11 security outcomes we examined, out of all the security outcomes measured in our report. These SMBs were also better equipped to adapt to COVID-19’s shifting security requirements, as well as the demand for a remote and hybrid workforce.

In short, protecting against today’s attacks using yesterday’s technologies is difficult. Let’s take a look at the above-mentioned breach scenario again. What steps can small businesses take to avoid this? By adding security processes (think employee education and training, new tools and procedures connected to business results), as well as solutions like Cisco Designed Secure Remote Work, you can improve your security. A layered security approach protects teams, endpoints, data, and ultimately the organization from threats while allowing work to be done from anywhere.

Cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions that can be updated and refreshed when new threats surface are also important. A modern IT stack that promotes agility and efficiency while offering security can be a differentiator for SMBs as our work environments continue to transform in the aftermath of the epidemic.

3. Keep security at the forefront of your mind.

Finally, don’t forget to include security in your to-do list. We understand the value of planning, from recipes to trip itineraries (oh, for the day when we can travel widely again). Small businesses and cybersecurity are no exception, especially when resources are limited and stretched thin.

According to the findings of the poll, SMBs with a solid plan in place to drive security initiatives are substantially more likely to report positive outcomes. Furthermore, for SMBs, a robust security plan was viewed as more vital than for larger corporations.

One word comes to mind while considering security priorities and strategies: simplicity. However, simple does not imply unsuccessfully. According to the survey results, SMBs can achieve higher levels of success than larger firms with a streamlined security approach that works with the business and keeps up with its developing needs. This is fantastic news for small firms since it allows them to prioritize their efforts and concentrate on the areas where they will receive the greatest returns.

Download the SMB Security Outcomes Report for 2021.

As we go from entirely remote to hybrid work environments, cybersecurity will remain a top responsibility for businesses of all sizes. SMBs can become more resilient and adaptable in an ever-changing security world with the appropriate strategy and tools in place. Cisco Designed Secure Remote Work and our comprehensive range of security capabilities are examples of SaaS solutions that can assist mitigate security concerns.

Access the complete 2021 Security Outcomes Study for Small and Midsize Businesses for additional information on these and other key outcomes (SMBs). We also just did a #CiscoChat Live to go over the report’s conclusions in greater detail. You can hear the recording by clicking here.

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