In the recent past, conversations about online privacy and the need to protect our ever growing digital footprint have become more relevant. There is no debating the fact that all of us lead lives heavily intertwined with technology and have data critical to us stored on digital platforms. Personal information, banking details and even our travel habits are tracked and stored, making it crucial to ensure this data is secure and protected from those with malicious intent.
Data Security in the focus
While all this conversation around our personal data is more relevant than ever, it tends to overshadow another aspect of online security. Business security. In the modern, connected world we live in, businesses inevitably build a large digital footprint of their own. Everything from critical data, bank accounts, financial records, employment records and even customer data records are stored on digital servers. Sometimes these servers are within the business’ premises and sometimes they are virtual.
The tools employed by businesses to protect themselves have to be updated for the digital age we live in. A large safe in the office is no longer relevant and businesses all over the world are employing sophisticated fire walls, insulated servers and sometimes teams of digital security personnel to protect their data. Large organizations spend a vast resources on their cyber security. Even with this massive spend, there are times when they find themselves struggling to protect their data.
Growth makes them more vulnerable
At the other end of the spectrum, small tech driven businesses are growing in stature rapidly. They are attracting large customer bases and often have sensitive data that can affect a significant number of stakeholders. With this growth, it is inevitable for them to attract attention. While the merits of this attention are obvious when it comes to reaching out to new customers and grow the scale of operations it does have a down side. This attention and recognition makes them high value targets for hackers across the world. Each growth milestone they hit makes their data more valuable. Cyber security, that was once considered a luxury only large organisations deployed is quickly becoming an essential part of businesses in their early stages.
For cyber security to become accessible to smaller businesses, it is essential for it to become more effective and more economical. In todays highly competitive market place we have witnessed the birth of effective, affordable cyber security tools and services. They have become accessible to business owners across industries.
Some of the modern tools at the pinnacle of this new age arsenal being deployed by businesses across the world are beginning to gain popularity. Small Businesses are now starting to use VPN Services as the first line of defense. Since their relatively recent deployment for businesses they have already proved to be priceless not only to protect online privacy but also help businesses deploy more efficient, cost effective processes. They have become integral to the operation of a lot of businesses that depend heavily on technology.
While the tools are constantly improving, it seems like there is a more pressing concern facing the industry. A survey conducted by the CSID reveals some interesting information. A sizable 58% of small businesses claim that they are concerned about the threat of cyber-attacks. Still 51% of these businesses do not allocate any resources to mitigate such risks.
Raising awareness through education
With all the tools in the world, the most important factor in the fight to protect small businesses boils down to education. The need to make people aware of the value their data holds and how they can protect themselves has to become top priority.
Joe Ross, the President and Co Founder of the CSID sums it all up simply. “To bridge this education gap and prompt small businesses to mitigate their risk of cyber attacks, it will take a collaborative effort on the part of both the security industry at large and the public and private sectors to raise awareness around this issue. Cyber security best practices must become top-of-mind for small business owners as they work to define their business plans and corporate cultures. As employees are often the weakest link in a business’ security, employee education is key; including enforcement of policies around passwords, bring your own device (BYOD) and social media. Last but not least, enlisting in third-party services to monitor business information will be essential in arming small businesses with the tools they need to help keep their business secure.”
All responsible business owners must take it upon themselves to educate themselves about this growing threat. It is important to understand that the data they hold not only affects the organization but also the countless customers whose information they hold on their servers. As customers or business owners, the onus is on all of us to help spread the word. Whether it is a customer demanding better security or a business taking the initiative themselves, each time better defenses are mounted, it is a step forward in the protection of data that is valuable to us.