SMBs Increasingly the Target of Security Breaches

By Peter Bernstein May 29, 2013

The breadth and interest in cyber security threats continues to dominate the headlines. And, while those headlines tend to focus on the biggest and most malicious attacks, which typically hit large enterprises, the facts are that small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) have increasingly become targets. This increase, and the serious threats they represent to SMBs’ bottom lines, is highlighted in an interesting infographic from U.K. security employment firm Via Resource.  

Citing both a new U.K. government study that documents SMB vulnerability, and PWC's last Global Information Security Survey, the trend is alarming. Europe in particular has a growing problem. In fact, the PWC survey found that while 42 percent of North American organizations detected at least one security incident, Europe was considerably higher at 60 percent.

What is not surprising is that new threats are arising as a result of exploitation of the growing number of vulnerable vectors being produced by the proliferation of social networking usage and the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon. Via Resource says that, although larger organizations remain primary targets of bad actors, these organizations have the resources to protect themselves; SMBs do not and/or are not educated, and thus do not institute even simple best practices.

Sobering numbers on SMB vulnerability and some help in the U.K.

As Via Resource notes, “Attacks against small businesses have increased by 10 percent in the past year. The real eye-opener is that it is costing such entities up to 6 percent of their revenues. This is a huge number for small businesses, and it is observed that they could have protected themselves for far less.

This is a case where a picture tells the story. As the infographic illustrates, it is possible to calculate the costs of a typical information security data breach and the costs are high.

Information Security Breaches 2013
Infographic by Via Resource

The overall picture is not a pretty one, but this is particularly true for SMBs. In fact, in a bid to boost the U.K.’s cyber security, the government's Technology Strategy Board has offered SMBs the chance to bid for up to £5,000 (roughly $7,800) in Innovation Vouchers to improve their IT security with outside expertise. Not surprisingly, the recruitment company says that the needs of SMBs for outside help on cyber security issues will create a significant need for skilled workers.

Given the intense focus on cyber threats in the U.S., it will be interesting to see if similar initiatives to the one in the U.K. are attempted. As the Via Resources stated, the cost of protection is less than that of cleaning up after an attack, and SMBs need both education and access to the best practices and people.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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