As organizations across the country begin to emerge from their mandatory COVID-19 hibernations, the transition could be difficult for many as they continue to feel the brunt of the health crisis and its economic impact. These challenges would be exacerbated for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Although reopenings and renewed operations offer initial hope, they're also being met with a great deal of uncertainty because many SMBs have fewer resources — in terms of capital and personnel — than they previously had.
Often overshadowed by large enterprises, SMBs are responsible for nearly 44% of economic activity in the United States, according to the US Small Business Administration. But given the current climate, it can be difficult for SMBs to find available and/or affordable resources, and they are finding themselves easy targets for cyberattacks. In response, they are looking to the cybersecurity community now more than ever for accessible cybersecurity solutions, especially considering the never-ending wave of malware, ransomware, and phishing campaigns.
What exactly should SMBs be looking for as they determine the best products and services to mitigate their cybersecurity issues and enhance their overall security postures? Here are three simple, yet effective suggestions.
First and foremost, finding free or low-cost versions of cybersecurity products or services is a must. Luckily for SMBs, many organizations have offered their solutions at discounted rates in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These security vendors are rightfully recognizing how essential it is to keep SMBs — which serve as the backbone of their local economies — up and running. By taking advantage of these discounts and forming initial business relationships with vendors, SMBs that weather the COVID-19 storm will already have the resources and relationships in place to scale their security needs once "normal" operations resume.
However, it's important to note that SMBs should look out for any fine print attached to discounted solutions regarding geographic boundaries, user threshold limits, and specific time frames. While anyone in need of enhanced security should have the ability to access such terms, this is often not the case, and SMBs should be especially wary of hidden or misleading disclaimers.
Ease of Installation and Deployment
SMBs typically employ small IT teams that often cover security as a secondary skill set, so it can be understandingly overwhelming for them to choose from among the sheer number of available security products and services. This also makes it difficult for them to understand which of the thousands of solutions on the market are the right fit for their business needs. Even if all of the details are outlined, SMB decision-makers can still struggle with simply knowing how to respond to active threats and deploying the technology. Therefore, solutions that are very simple, both in terms of installation and deployment, should be prioritized by those involved in leadership positions.
Low Maintenance and User Experience
Similarly, ongoing maintenance that does not require a dedicated IT or security team to constantly implement updates or include additional customizations should be emphasized when comparing options. Given that day-to-day users will likely not be security-savvy, having an intuitive user experience should be a key component of any security solution under consideration. Employees will want to be able to maintain their level of productivity while simultaneously staying secure. Ultimately, the balance between easy maintenance and enhanced usability is a delicate one, but SMBs shouldn't think they have to trade one for the other.
By taking these three recommendations to heart, SMBs can improve their overall security and collectively protect the businesses that make up nearly half of our country's economy. Even better, they'll be able to keep their doors open for business to customers and keep their workers employed, while keeping both parties secure from cyber threats.