Entrepreneurs may well be the latest cyberwarfare heroes. Despite the increasing likelihood of malicious attacks, small and medium business owners are moving on with a new sense of security.
UnravelThe Fourth Annual IT Security Report for SMEs, released on October 7, shows that SMEs have adapted to a changing work environment, addressed the influx of cyberattacks, and defined their approach to IT security.
The researchers surveyed more than 740 small and medium-sized businesses. This is the largest group of respondents to date.
Some of the findings appear to contradict other industry reports.
The Untangle study found that even with a limited budget and resources, SMBs have implemented critical strategies to address network security issues. SMEs also laid the foundation for future investments in the process.
Eighty percent of those surveyed shared the feeling of feeling more secure now than last year; likely attributable to the trend of more small businesses with fewer than 25 employees making investments in IT.
The vast majority of respondents feeling more secure this year is supported by the fact that SMBs have higher annual IT security budgets than respondents in previous years, according to Scott Devens, CEO of Untangle.
“Looking at even the smallest companies, those with fewer than 25 employees in 2020, only 28 percent had annual budgets of $ 1,000 to $ 5,000 compared to 35 percent in 2021, and 64 percent spent more than $ 1,000 in IT security, compared to 41 percent in 2020; and there is a greater understanding of the severity of the attacks, “he told TechNewsWorld.
As cyberattacks continue to grow, news headlines are prompting more companies, including SMEs, to pay attention to potential threats and take steps to protect against them, Devens added. SMBs realize that they are also targets of cyberattacks and look at IT security from a problem / solution point of view.
For example, significantly more than half (64 percent) of those surveyed violate the name as their top security concern. Most companies recognize firewalls (73 percent) and antivirus / antimalware protection (62 percent) as their top IT security solutions, according to the report.
SMEs are also beginning to rely on cloud solutions. Recognizing the need for digital transformation, 58 percent of SMBs have implemented more than one-tenth of their IT infrastructure in the cloud. That’s a 32 percent increase from 2020.
Untangle previously found that SMBs had general security concerns and did not have a clear understanding of cloud security. That led them to worry about losing control when the systems were not on-site, Devens explained.
Despite that progress, cybersecurity barriers continue to draw more SMEs to the security table. Employees not following the guidelines have become the number one barrier to IT security. Despite some budget increases, many organizations still struggle with spending constraints and a lack of manpower to monitor and manage security.
New business locations are a determining factor in the need to implement software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology to connect local area networks that are widely separated. This has led to more than 20 percent of SMBs implementing some type of SD-WAN framework, while another 19 percent have plans to implement or investigate it.
Although companies have been investing more in IT security, barriers persist for SMEs. Employees not following the guidelines have become the top barrier to IT security (28 percent).
The past two years have seen employees switch between working remotely and the office. Of the SMEs surveyed, half of the companies now have the majority of their employees working in the office. Yet in keeping with the current workplace transformation trend, 41 percent have transitioned a quarter or more of their workers to hybrid work permanently.
SMBs realize that they are also targeted by cyberattacks, not just large companies, and look at IT security from a problem / solution point of view, Devens observed. With 64% of naming breaches being their top security concern, it is understandable that most businesses recognize firewalls and antivirus / antimalware protection as the top IT security solutions.
“By making this data available, we are giving SMEs the ability to learn from each other, see what other similar companies are concerned about, and see how other SMEs are adapting,” Devens said.
Beware of ransomware
Regardless of SMB’s new cybersecurity comfort zone, one of the biggest threats still lurking is ransomware attacks. An august Atlas VPN report Revealed ransomware attacks increased 151 percent in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020.
The United States is the country most threatened by ransomware by a significant margin, with 227.3 million attempted ransomware attacks. The second most attacked companies were in the UK, with 14.6 million ransomware attack attempts.
“Ransomware attacks are a serious problem that terrifies many organizations or government agencies, causing a national danger. As many people neglect basic cybersecurity rules, they become easy targets for cybercriminals. Improving people’s cybersecurity awareness and preparedness is a must if companies want to reduce ransomware attacks, ”William Sword, cybersecurity researcher at Atlas VPN, told TechNewsWorld.
Staying alert and prepared is essential
Cyber defenses have become more and more trustworthy since last year’s report. As cybersecurity vendors unveil innovative new solutions to protect against ransomware, phishing, and data breaches, cybersecurity adversaries are working just as hard to break down those solutions and find new ways to get ahead of them. those providers, added Devens of Untangle.
“Keeping bad actors at bay is an ongoing game of cat and mouse. Bad actors will continue to find ways to circumvent even the most innovative new technologies. Keeping up with the latest new technologies is necessary to ensure defenses remain strong, ”he said.
“SMEs are beginning to move their IT infrastructure to the cloud. Recognizing the need for digital transformation, given the changes and challenges of the last year and a half, 58 percent of SMEs have implemented more than 10 percent of their IT infrastructure in the cloud. That’s a 32 percent increase from 2020.
“With a changing workplace landscape and a continued increase in cyberattacks, SMBs have shifted their mindset from ‘It can’t happen to me’ to taking security threats seriously,” Devens explained.
“To that end, they have increased their focus on IT security, have stronger networks than a year ago, and have plans for greater attack prevention in the future. There is a definite trend to put more IT in the cloud and follow a multi-layered approach to security. “