Ian
Ziv

Should SMEs take cybersecurity seriously?

Ian Ziv

Nov 3, 2021

11 min read

As an enterprise owner, you’re sure to take umpteen measures to protect your firm from intruders. Huge investments will be made to set up world-class security systems consisting of CCTVs, intrusion alarms, fire and smoke detectors, various sensors, multi-level access controls and many more. You have a valid reason to spend such enormous amounts on security systems because your physical assets are priceless and are extremely important for your business.

But at the same time, what measure have you taken to ensure SME cybersecurity? The chances are that you haven’t taken any. A gentle reminder to you that, in a world propelled by internet and data, the importance of digital assets is beyond imagination. Many enterprises that had the latest on-premises security systems had to close down because of data breaches. So, if you’re still not serious about protecting your digital assets, it’s high time that you reconsider your decision.

This blog is a walkthrough on why SMEs should take cybersecurity more seriously. For that, we analyze the jeopardy associated with an SME world, and by the end of this blog, you’ll see how having a device management solution can be a game-changer.

Data breaches are absolute nightmares!

Data breach is still a grave concern for all the SMEs
Data breach is still a grave concern for all the SMEs
 

Every day, companies, irrespective of their size, type and geographical parameters, face countless cyber threats from a variety of sources. The small and medium enterprises are more likely than their counterparts to succumb to data breaches because most SMEs are still not serious about implementing much-needed cyber defenses in their firms. Also, the majority of them are yet to be equipped with necessary detection methods to identify a breach quickly and to act rapidly against it.

Data is what drives most SMEs. Hence, a loss of data results in hefty financial costs. But again, how hefty? According to the latest data breach report by IBM and Ponemon Institute, the average cost of data infringement per incident is around $4.24 million. In most cases, this amount exceeds what SMEs could afford to pay and quite naturally, the companies who are unable to pay the amount, shutter down.

Studies also reveal that 60% of SMEs who were victims of a data breach went out of business in less than 6 months after a report of data breach from their firm. These statistics are all frustrating, but I’m personally more concerned by the fact that even today, most of the SMEs are not willing to take serious safety measures in their company to protect data.

It is not just about ‘loss of data’

Data breaches also result in a loss of customers. Customer satisfaction and trust are two important parameters to be considered since victims of cybercrime are much more likely to develop negative feelings toward a company that was unable to protect itself and its customers.

When the consumers were asked about recent high-profile cyber-attacks,

  • 71% admitted that they believed these events were damaging to the organization’s reputation.
  • 65% said that it decreased their trust in the brand.
  • 53% thought that it would damper people’s engagement with the brand in the future.

It’s evident from the statistics that the majority of customers are unwilling to cooperate with a firm affected by a data breach. Customer loss has a huge impact on financial deprivation. It is estimated that companies who lost 4% of their customers from a data breach could see the overall average cost of the incident rise to $5.1 million.

Adding on, many companies shut down during cyber-attacks. Even this can be disastrous in terms of loss of wealth to a company as employee salary and other costs related to inventory management, equipment handling can add up to a humongous amount. (This can be as large as $72000+ on a weekly basis for a 20 employee company )

Furthermore, several countries have laws to ensure that the companies comply with a variety of state and federal laws and regulations. You might have heard about HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Failure to manage your customer data in accordance with these relevant laws can also result in fines, litigation, and even criminal convictions.

The bottom line is that data loss could be really troublesome for your firm. Without doubt the companies that are yet to take any precautionary measures are more prone to cyber-attacks in the future.
Having understood some of the unfortunate incidents caused by a data breach, let’s talk about a transition that might have a small influence in accelerating of data breaches.

BYOD: hero or villain?

With more than 6 billion unique smartphone users across the world, the concept of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ for work was a groundbreaking thought. Especially during the pandemic situation, when everything was falling apart, most of the SMEs including IT companies managed to survive by incorporating BYOD and work from home concepts in their firms.

Even though BYOD was a successful initiative, any spectator with a decent knowledge about computers and internet could see the security flaws that are brought to a company by BYOD. Cyber criminals are always looking for potential opportunities to steal corporate data. With unmanaged BYOD, the risk factor was really high as these portable devices were more prone to phishing scams, data leakage and spyware. On top of all these, the enterprises had to account for the possibility of an employee losing a mobile device or the device getting stolen.

A managed BYOD that is equipped with a proper device management solution on the other hand, could eliminate all the above-mentioned problems and provide the SMEs with a much better insight about the status of end-user devices. Before we dwell into the contents of device management, we may go through device security and how implementing device security via a UEM can be decisive.

Device security: need or necessity?

Cybersecurity personnels in a meeting
A supervisor giving instructions to his team about cybersecurity
 

Device security is a broad term to indicate all the measures designed to protect device information present in portable work devices such as laptops, mobile phones, desktops, and others. Data breach often take place due to the absence of a proper device security solution. There are four types of mobile device security threats,

1. Application security threats

Application based threats happen when people choose to download applications from unknown sites. These may look like legitimate apps but in reality, they’re designed in a way to steal user data. In most cases the user may not be realizing that his data is being leaked in this manner.

2. Web based mobile security threats

These are the most common cases of data theft as these thefts are difficult to identify and hence go unnoticed for longer periods of time. Web based security threats happen when people go through malicious websites that might seem fine on the front but, in reality they download unwanted content in to a system without the user’s knowledge.

3. Network security threats

These threats are also common and mainly these occur when cyber attackers target unsecured or free to use public WI-FI connections. In certain cases, hackers also create spoof networks that users unknowingly enter by providing user name and password, giving hackers the opportunity to compromise devices and credentials.

4. Device security threats

Physical threats to mobile devices refer to a case where the devices are stolen or lost. This threat becomes a danger for enterprises when people don’t use a strong password, PIN or biometric authentication. The results of mobile device threats are that the attackers easily hack into the enterprise network using the device they obtained and to manipulate the corporate data.

Each of these threats can result in data loss, and device security is an all-inclusive solution that can avert the possibility of these threats. Having understood that the effect of a breach can be disastrous, it’s always wise to prepare yourself before it happens.

Get yourselves prepared with a UEM solution

UEM can be your go-to-go solution. You can choose any device management solution but make sure that it’s apt for your SME.
Hexnode UEM is an award-winning device management solution. Following are some of the endpoint management functions provided by Hexnode that can help you to secure your corporate data from the possibility of a data breach.

1. Wipe device

If a device goes missing or stolen and it contains sensitive data that you cannot risk being compromised, Lock device is your primary solution. But in certain cases, device passwords might be much easier to crack and to protect your data from reaching wrong hands, you’re left with just a single option which is device wipe . In BYOD devices, only the work container will be wiped and this is called corporate wipe.

Device wipe is supported in almost all the platforms like Android, macOS, iOS, Windows and even tvOS.

2. Lost mode

Hexnode UEM’s Lost mode is a remote action that is aimed at protecting lost devices. Once the lost mode is activated, the device gets locked automatically and it stays in lost mode until the IT admin removes the lost mode policy. But in Android devices, one can exit from lost mode manually by entering the global exit passcode. During lost mode, all device activities will be stopped. By applying a location tracking policy, the exact location of device can be identified.

Lost mode is supported on device platforms like Android, Windows and iOS.

3. Password policy

Enforcing a strong device password is always the first line of defense for any corporate device. The password policy help enterprises to setup strong password requirements on their endpoint devices. Setting a strong password policy ensure that the end user meets these minimum requirements while choosing their device password.

Password policy can be applied to platforms like Windows, Android, iOS and macOS. If the end user password does not match the corporate set criteria; the device will be marked non-compliant. Hexnode has an inbuilt dashboard where an IT admin can review the compliance status of every enrolled device.

4. Blacklist/Whitelist applications

With blacklisting and whitelisting of applications, an IT admin can regulate the access to certain apps that might be unsuitable for work environment.

The set of apps that are unsafe or deemed to be inappropriate for the organization can be marked as blacklisted. Having a blacklisted app with malicious intent can make the device “Application non-compliant”. Blacklisting apps restrict the user from installing or accessing an app or a group of apps on the device.

Whitelisting, on the other hand, allows a set of pre-selected apps to function in the device, blocking all others. Whitelisting allows the administrators to limit the set of applications the user can execute in his or her device.

5. VPN

A Virtual Private Network or VPN is a cloak of anonymity that reroutes the internet activity of a user. VPN uses a secure encrypted connection and thus help to mask user activity like search history, downloaded files, online activities, geolocation and more from possible attackers. The IT admin can configure a VPN server setting on devices such as iOS, macOS, Android and Windows devices via a policy in Hexnode UEM, which, when associated with target entities, sets up VPN configurations in the devices and creates new connections to the network.

6. Remote troubleshooting

Hexnode UEM’s remote view action enables the IT admins to remotely connect to an endpoint device display in real-time. Remote view enables the IT admin to supervise his endpoint devices and can also provide valuable suggestions to a user who needs assistance. In Samsung Knox devices, Remote control is also possible where the admin can remotely control the endpoint device.

7. Global HTTP proxy

This policy helps to ensure that all the HTTP network communication is passing through a pre-configured proxy server. Global HTTP proxy helps prevent any possible attacks like phishing, buffer overflow and even SQL injection.
Supported on Android, macOS and iOS devices

8. Web content filtering

Web content filtering is a perfect remedy against web-based security threats. It allows the IT admins to be the moderators of your worker’s web traffic. Any unwanted site can be blacklisted and the employee won’t be able to access that website from his or her corporate device.

9. Geofencing

Geofencing is a location-based restriction. By applying geofence policy, a virtual fence is created around a geographical region and if the device goes out of this virtual fence the IT admins will be notified. This feature can be used in association with dynamic grouping and Hexnode policies to adapt to a wide range of use cases like making corporate resources and device configurations available based on device location or creating a compliance-based alert system that detects and notifies the admin if a device goes out of the geofence.

Takeaways

Otto Von Bismarck once quoted, “A little caution outflanks a large cavalry”. We’ve seen the disastrous impact of data breaches and device security threats on SMEs. The struggle is real. The cavalry of cyber attackers is increasing in number every day. If a small caution could avert the danger, then why not?

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Ian Ziv

Sometimes it feels like I'm living in a simulation. But the other times? I'm trying to figure out what to eat

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