COVID-19 changed the American workplace. Seemingly overnight, countless companies transitioned to remote work. Sending millions of workers home – without adequate IT support – created a cybersecurity nightmare. Larger companies had the resources to adapt and protect themselves. Unfortunately, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often did not.
More than ever, a market need for small business cybersecurity support exists. Cybersecurity firms have historically underserved SMEs. But, this remains a potentially huge market segment for the IT industry. As such, we’ll use this article to outline small business cybersecurity needs – and how IT firms can support them. Specifically, we’ll cover the following:
- Why Do Small Businesses Need Cybersecurity?
- What Kind of IT Support Do SMEs Currently Have?
- What Does the Future of IT Support Look Like for SMEs?
- How Can Cybersecurity Businesses Support Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses?
- Final Thoughts
Why Do Small Businesses Need Cybersecurity?
When American workers moved home as a result of COVID-19, they unintentionally created massive cyber vulnerabilities. In offices, small businesses could somewhat centralize IT support. But, with employees using unsecured home networks, opportunistic cybercriminals drove a fourfold increase in attacks.
These attacks can cause millions of dollars in damages to businesses of any size. Whereas large corporations can absorb those hits, SMEs cannot. Moving forward, the workplace landscape will remain changed. Even as workers gradually move back to offices, remote work will remain a common option. Accordingly, small businesses will need to take tremendous strides to protect themselves from cyber-attacks.
What Kind of IT Support Do SMEs Currently Have?
Even before COVID-19, SMEs faced major cybersecurity challenges. These smaller businesses have limited budgets to hire skilled IT professionals and purchase quality software. As a result, IT support generally takes one of two paths in these firms – both bad.
Option 1: businesses purchase cybersecurity tools poorly suited to their size and nature. Currently, cybersecurity companies tailor these products to large enterprises – not SMEs. This creates a false sense of security. Yes, these businesses have some protection, but this technology fails to adequately protect their operations from malicious actors. Option 2: small businesses outsource their IT support. Outsourced IT support can provide a certain level of cybersecurity protection. But, as third parties, these IT firms fail to fully understand the unique processes and vulnerabilities of the small businesses they support.
What Does the Future of IT Support Look Like for SMEs?
Bottom line, neither of the above IT approaches provides sufficient small business cybersecurity. But, this also creates tremendous opportunities for IT service providers. Estimates project SMEs as a $40 billion global cybersecurity category. And, the category will only increase, with year-over-year growth of over eight percent. Despite this scale, cybersecurity providers continue to underserve SMEs. Instead, these companies have focused their IT support on large corporations.
What’s the best path ahead for SME Cybersecurity?
Most IT providers design products for large corporations, so what’s the answer for SMEs? Enter cloud-based cybersecurity tools. These services offer simple, scalable solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses. More precisely, these products allow for a more modular approach to digital security. Rather than the all-or-nothing approach available to large corporations, cloud-based cybersecurity can grow with a company. SME’s needs change with growth, and cloud-based IT solutions can adapt accordingly.
For IT providers, these smaller, more tailored approaches represent an outstanding business opportunity, as well. Some IT firms have already begun pushing the idea of security suites – as opposed to stand-alone products. These suites directly support the needs of SMEs, offering a variety of critical cybersecurity measures, including:
- End-point detection
- Next-generation firewalls
- E-mail/phishing protection
- Mobile security
- Cloud-based support
With a modular approach, these suites reduce the up-front costs and complexity of cybersecurity implementation, deployment, and maintenance. Rather than an on-site installation, all of these services would exist on the cloud. And, as a $40 billion category – and growing – the IT providers that embrace these cybersecurity solutions will seize an outstanding business opportunity.
How Can Better Cybersecurity Help Small and Medium-Sized Businesses?
Surveys have shown that SMEs do not have uniform security needs. Instead, support depends on a company’s maturity. As IT firms craft cybersecurity solutions for SMEs, they should keep the following survey results in mind.
These companies have more parallels with individual consumers than large-scale corporations. In particular, roughly 90 percent of their cyber spending goes towards es on end-point security. Furthermore, companies with 50 employees or fewer opt for free or consumer-grade products. For IT providers, this means a unique solution must be crafted to enter this segment. If firms can create a scalable, low-cost cybersecurity solution, they can “get their foot in the door.” Then, as these SMEs grow, IT providers can scale to more advanced solutions.
Like their limited-maturity counterparts, these SMEs focus heavily on consumer-grade end-point security. But, as companies grow, they also begin to adopt basic network security solutions. And, these network solutions inherently lend themselves to scalability. As companies scale, savvy IT providers will develop network security add-ons to seamlessly integrate with existing systems. With this category, simplicity and affordability remain paramount.
These companies still don’t qualify as large corporations. However, they’ve reached a level of maturity requiring more enterprise-wide cybersecurity solutions. Yet, they lack the willingness and resources to pay for large-scale solutions.
The Path Ahead for IT Service Providers
As illustrated, SMEs follow a progression through maturity stages – with each stage corresponding to unique cybersecurity needs. We firmly believe that IT firms that offer scalable, cloud-based solutions will seize this market. Ideally, firms can establish relationships with early-stage SMEs, offering services similar to consumer-grade products. As these SMEs mature, the IT service providers will grow their scalable products with them. In other words, IT firms will offer an integrated lifecycle of cybersecurity support.
To date, SMEs remain underrepresented in the cybersecurity market. However, these small- and medium-sized companies also represent a massive customer segment. As such, the IT firms that develop scalable, cloud-based cybersecurity solutions to meet the needs of SMEs will seize a tremendous business opportunity.
Small businesses cannot ignore cybersecurity threats. And, implementing preventative cybersecurity strategies shouldn’t be a daunting challenge. At Tax Hack, we can help your business lay out a long-term path for success and growth. Schedule a strategy session with a Tax Hack pro today to see how we can help your business.