Cyber criminals are targeting small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and inflicting business disruption with growing frequency. We find daily examples of criminals - lone wolves as well as state-sponsored actors - holding business files and emails for ransom. It’s believed that as many as 5% of SMBs globally have fallen victim to ransomware attacks
In other instances, cyber criminals have exploited an SMB’s cyber defenses to stage gateway attacks against bigger organizations that have either direct or indirect relationships with the company.
No matter the type of company – it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a sole legal practitioner or a 10-person medical office – SMBs are now in the crosshairs. Yet while the need for enterprise-grade security has never been more pressing, the fact is that few SMB owners even believe they are at risk of attack.
In speaking with security-conscious SMBs about how they protect themselves against cyber crime, we find that they plan their strategy by asking three basic questions:
- What type of security products do I need?
- How much does it cost?
- Where should I buy it?
Figuring out question No. 3 answers questions No. 1 and No. 2 by default. It’s where SMBs should begin. It’s also why we believe SMBs should reach out to telcos to help defend their businesses against cyber attacks.
World-class security firms have established partnerships with telcos
In the last 3 years, many cyber security companies have forged partnerships with telcos to deliver products that are bundled with those companies’ core services, such as broadband and mobile. More and more, we find telcos delivering proper cyber security products along with the purchase of its services for SMBs.
For example, if you’re an SMB in the UK or Ireland, British Telecom offers what it calls “BT Device Protection” together with its premium broadband service. That makes things a lot simpler. The SMB only needs to deal with one company and pay one bill. What’s more, the immense purchasing power of the telco benefits the SMB by reducing the cost of enterprise grade business protection to a few dollars per month.
The cyber security industry has not made product buying decisions easy. The SMBs we speak with often ask why they can’t just use the “free stuff” that’s out there. Do they really need to buy different products to protect different devices made by different device makers? Do they need to get locked into contracts?
These are legitimate and relevant considerations for small business owners with limited budgets who can only spend hundreds – not thousands - of dollars each year on cyber defense.
Like a concierge, the telco will have done the necessary leg work, evaluating security partners and leveraging their expertise to determine which products to build for their buyers. For example, most SMBs nowadays are adopting cloud services and apps, such as Office 365 for email and Box for storage. They need to keep these important emails and files protected. A telco that already has a cyber defense partner will be able to answer that requirement with an integrated, all-encompassing product to block viruses and other malware launched by cyber criminals.
The Payoff: Simplicity
By any measure, the operational scope of the average telco is impressive. They deliver around-the-clock voice and data networks to locations around the world. They offer custom plans for consumers, small business and enterprises. At the same time, they operate thousands of service centers, generate accurate bills, and aggregate services such as phone insurance, business apps, and third-party technical support.
On the security front, telcos have had - or are building - programs to evaluate cyber security risk. They use algorithms to generate cyber security scores that give business leaders a fairly accurate sense of their risk. It also helps the telco recommend the right products based on that score.
If you’re an SMB, you’re likely already doing business with a telco or cable company. All the more reason to make it easier on yourself by seeking them out as a security adviser. They’ve already done the product evaluation research and are backed by world-class security providers. That just makes the business of protecting your business straightforward and economical.