With less resources than larger enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face a tricky dilemma: how can they keep secure and stay ahead of cyber criminals while benefitting from new technologies and processes to compete with their rivals?

The reality is brought to light when you consider research from analyst firm Gartner, which predicts that by 2020, 60 percent of digital businesses will suffer major service failures due to the inability of IT security teams to manage digital risk. Digital transformation clearly doesn’t necessarily equate to a more secure enterprise. It’s no surprise then that in the Dell Small Business Survey, 14 percent of IT decision makers from small businesses said that their focus of their IT environment was on preventing a cyberattack.

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And these failures can have catastrophic consequences; the US National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60 percent of small companies are unable to sustain their businesses over six months after a cyber attack. What makes their position more precarious is that SMBs do not necessarily have a CISO or an IT security team at their disposal who can lead the team out of an attack.

The only way for an SMB to avoid the crippling fate of their business being brought down is to maximise the resources it has at hand. The first part of this process is to get management on side. This is a two-way process, as a business leader, you need to have a realistic budget in mind that you need for personnel, third parties and technologies, and this needs to be considered against what is actually available.

Once you know what is available, it is about drawing up a plan which can best help you mitigate cyber threats. To do that, you need to contemplate what it is you are actually securing. For many businesses – such as those in e-commerce – an attack like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on infrastructure, could lead to a major loss in revenues. In the Dell Small Business Survey, data security was cited as one of the coming year’s highest priorities for nearly half (49 percent) of IT decision makers, with 10 percent saying it was the highest priority. Evaluating where the biggest risks lie within the highest priority areas and exactly where you need to prioritise security is a critical step for all businesses.

Thereafter, business leaders should consider which technologies they need. According to the Dell Small Business Survey, IT leaders said the pace of change in cybersecurity and the evolving capabilities of threat actors are the biggest challenge when protecting themselves from cyberattacks, with 61 percent of respondents citing this.

This was followed by staying ahead of software updates and patching (44 percent), risks associated with staff (43 percent), lack of human resources to monitor and respond to the latest threats (35 percent) and a lack of visibility into the network and threat detection capability (31 percent). The latter suggests that SMBs should invest in security monitoring and threat detection tools to help support their lack of resources. Gartner echoed this sentiment, as it cited managed detection and response (MDR) as the perfect type of solution for SMBs because it improves threat detection, incident response and continuous-monitoring capabilities for organisations that don’t have the expertise or resources to carry it out by themselves. But the Dell Small Business Survey found that these technologies were not ranked highly in terms of priorities to invest in and this shows a disconnect between what is necessary and what is actually being procured and implemented.

This supports the notion that SMBs could benefit from an external voice; experts in the field who can find the right solutions for success. Today’s small business owners could take advantage of a partner that can pick the right technology, but also ensure that these adhere to regulations and best practice – particularly when changes are made or new security threats need to be addressed.

Utilising third parties can make SMBs stronger and more resilient, giving support to the in-house staff as and when required. It can also help a business extract more from their existing technologies and staff, and ultimately help business owners to mitigate against cybersecurity risks. 

Having the right technology, maintenance, guidance and financing in place is essential to small businesses’ innovation, growth and success. Dell helps with end-to-end technology, support and credit. Find out more at Dell Small Business.