The strategic importance of good cyber hygiene

SMEs are increasingly becoming a prime focus for cybercriminals
Cyber threats are a major concern for businesses of all sizes, which is why good cyber hygiene is imperative to safeguarding enterprises in the digital era

In today's increasingly digitised world, cyber threats have become a significant concern for businesses of all sizes, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These threats can range from data breaches and phishing attacks to ransomware and malware infections, and they can have a devastating impact on SMEs, leading to financial losses, reputational damage, and operational disruptions.

Despite often being considered less attractive targets than larger corporations, SMEs are increasingly becoming a prime focus for cybercriminals.

This is due to a number of factors, including:
  • Perceived vulnerability: Cybercriminals often assume that SMEs have weaker security measures in place, making them easier targets to exploit
  • Lack of resources: SMEs often have limited resources to dedicate to cybersecurity, making it more challenging for them to implement and maintain robust security protocols
  • Data value: SMEs still hold significant amounts of valuable data, such as customer information, intellectual property, and financial records, which are attractive targets for cybercriminals

The impact of cyberattacks on SMEs

To put it simply, the consequences of a cyberattack can be devastating. They can result in huge financial losses, reputational damage, and operational disruptions, which can impact organisations for years to come.

One way that enterprises can combat the potential risk of a cyberattack is through good cyber hygiene, which is the practice of taking simple and proactive steps to protect yourself and organisation from cyber threats. 

Denis Dorval, VP of International (EMEA and APAC) of JumpCloud, explains that one of the reasons why SMEs have become a target for attacks stems from the widely held belief that these organisations possess less robust and well-defined security measures. Often due to budget and resource limitations, SMEs often lack comprehensive cyber hygiene and end-user security awareness training, making them prime targets for phishing and social engineering attacks.

In addition, infrequent system updates, weak passwords, and unpatched devices further exacerbate their vulnerability. A staggering 25% of UK IT admins acknowledge the use of the same passwords across multiple applications as a major security concern. However, despite recognising this issue, the adoption of password managers among UK organisations falls short of the global average. Only 58% of UK respondents utilise password managers, compared to 64% worldwide, with only 13% planning to implement such tools in the near future.

Dorval says: “The growing sophistication of security threats continues to plague IT admins within SMEs, and external threats are causing the most alarm. When asked about their biggest security concerns, network attacks topped the list for UK IT admins (40%), followed by ransomware (35%), and software vulnerability exploits (28%), with 25% citing using the same password across different applications.

“Part of the solution is an IT environment built around identity. Identity is now at the core of every IT access transaction; it’s the new security perimeter. The ideal environment for SMEs, as it is for larger organisations, is to securely connect the right users with the right resources at the right time in the right way, no matter where users are logging in.”

The importance of adopting good cyber hygiene

The growing sophistication of security threats poses a continuous challenge for IT admins in SMEs, with external threats emerging as the most concerning. By adopting good cyber hygiene practices, SMEs can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to cyberattacks, which, in turn, can protect valuable assets, maintain their reputation, and ensure the continuity of their business operations.

Investing in cybersecurity is not just about protecting against threats; it is also about gaining a strategic advantage. SMEs that prioritise cybersecurity can demonstrate their commitment to data protection and customer trust, which can enhance their reputation and attract new business opportunities.

Good cyber hygiene is not just a technical necessity, but rather a crucial part of SME's strategy. By implementing effective cybersecurity measures, SMEs can safeguard their business, protect their assets, and thrive in an increasingly interconnected and vulnerable digital world.

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Other magazines that may be of interest - Technology Magazine | AI Magazine.

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