Cyber Security for SMBs Drives Business Growth

Introduction

Today, cyber security for SMBs is no longer a luxury but an essential component for businesses of all sizes. Some small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can underestimate the importance of robust cyber security, only to find themselves at the mercy of corporate fraud, operational disruption, competitor degradation and the realisation of critical business risk. Cyber security today can be a significant driver of business growth.

This article explores the crucial role cyber security plays in the expansion and sustainability of SMBs and offers actionable strategies to integrate effective security measures.

Download Your Free Cyber Incident Response Plan.
Download our free cyber incident response plan (including Ransomware runbook) just in case the worst happens.
Download
Playbook explaining how to survive a ransomware attackPlaybook explaining how to survive a ransomware attack

SMBs Are the Most Targeted in the UK

According to recent statistics, SMBs are now the prime target for cyber criminals. In the UK alone, you are 144% more likely to be cyber attacked if you are a small to medium sized business (SMBs) – IBM X-Force Threat Intel Index (2022). Why is this?

Why SMBs Are The Most Targeted By Cyber Criminals

  • Limited Expertise and Resources: smaller businesses don’t have an in-house information security team to detect and respond to cyber threats.
  • Smaller Budgets: growing businesses have much smaller budgets to spend on cyber security services, tools and advanced security infrastructure, so the extent of cyber capabilities and controls they can implement can be limited.
  • Higher ROI for the Attacker: because their defences are a lot lower and easier to overcome, cyber attackers can hit more in a shorter amount of time. This increases the attackers Return on Investment which is a key driver to determining who they target – who can they target to get the biggest bang for their buck? The answer is unfortunately small to medium sized businesses (SMBs).
  • Complacency: many SMBs operate under the false assumption that they are too small to attract cyber criminals and as such, haven’t prioritised cyber security and the spend required to protect themselves and their business interests.
  • Law Enforcement: attacking small to medium sized businesses (over enterprises) attracts considerably less ‘heat’ from law enforcement.
  • High-Value Data: SMBs often hold valuable customer data, making them lucrative targets for cyber attackers.
Lightbulb Icon The Result?

70% of SMBs go out of business within six months of a cyber attack (Verizon Data Breach Report, 2022).

Cyber Security for SMBs: Enabling Business Growth

Building robust cyber security for SMBs can have a profound impact on both business top and bottom lines. Here’s how:

1. Target Bigger Clients

Obtaining cyber accreditation, such as ISO 27001, Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus can significantly shorten contracting times with larger clients, i.e. the time it takes to perform due diligence and contract negotiations before a service or relationship can fully commence.

Cyber security certifications not only signals to potential customers that your business adheres to high standards of information security, but make it easier to win contracts from larger, more lucrative clients as they expect these certifications as standard.

Busy startup environment where cyber security for SMBs is not holding back business growth.

2. Operational Efficiency

When you have considered building security and privacy into business processes from their inception, also known as “security by design” and “privacy by design”, they can smooth operational processes that otherwise would have been hampered by poorly implement security controls and checks.

Example: Third Party Due Diligence

If you’re a growing business, you probably receive at least 2 to 3 data security third-party questionnaires per month. These are designed to assess your ability to protect their data and their customers data. Every questionnaire is different and can be very time-consuming to complete.

When your security controls have been embedded within your procurement and finance processes such that they are within an established workflow, responsibilities for different parts off the process are clear and agreed, and artefacts to accelerate the responses to these questionnaires exist (such as a database of answers to common questions), CyPro have found that the responses to these questionnaires can be sped up by around 3-4 times, from on average of 7-10 days to complete one questionnaire to 2-3 days.

Lightbulb Icon Key Takeaway

Building “security by design” and “privacy by design” principles into business processes such as finance, HR and procurement ultimately means your team can ‘go to market’ much faster unhindered by operational burden and excessive red-tape.

3. Lower Operating Costs

Aside from the somewhat obvious ‘avoiding ICO fines’ or the ‘cost of a data breach’ itself, investing in cyber security can also drive down other costs.

Example 1: Reduce Insurance Costs

Having a strong security framework and programme of risk remediation can lower business and cyber insurance premiums.

For instance, implementing a cyber security for SMBs framework and maintaining a documented incident response plan can make your organisation’s cyber risk profile more attractive to underwriters. This can lead to more favourable terms and lower premiums when negotiating cyber insurance policies because insurers recognise the reduced risk involved​​.

Progressive Commercial states that having security controls such as multi-factor authentication is essential. Without such measures, companies might struggle to get an insurance policy at all, indicating that strong cyber security practices are crucial for obtaining lower premiums​​.

Example 2: Uptime

Additionally, when cyber security for SMBs is done right, it will inevitably result in much greater overall business resilience – your business will be able to respond and recover from operational disruption events much quicker and with less disruption.

This greater resilience results in higher business and system uptime, reducing the costs associated with operational downtime.

Example 3: Data Breach Cost

It is worth mentioning that whilst scare tactics shouldn’t be central to a cyber security for SMBs business case, avoiding the cost of a data breach itself is well worth while. Especially, given the cost of an average data breach is around £3.15 million.

4. Commercial Agility

If you partner with a company that is expert in implementing cyber security for SMBs (like CyPro), then a well-designed cyber security environment around your software development infrastructure can not only secure your critical digital assets but also deliver lean software development.

Example: ‘Shift-Left’ Security

Implementing security early in the development process (also known as “shift-left” security) ensures that security vulnerabilities are identified and addressed early, well before they become embedded in the software supporting your products.

Secure software development lifecycle (SSDLC) enabling strong cyber security for the SMB.

This proactive approach reduces the time and cost associated with fixing security issues later in the development cycle. By integrating security testing into continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, development teams can catch and fix issues swiftly, enabling faster and more frequent releases.

Lightbulb Icon Key Takeaway

Adopting a ‘shift-left’ approach to your product development allows your business to release products and updates to your customers quicker, while also maintaining high security standards, thereby gaining a competitive edge.

This allows your business to release products and updates to your customers quicker, while also maintaining high security standards, thereby gaining a competitive edge.

5. Increase Innovation

Implementing cyber security for SMBs without a doubt can actually foster innovation.

For example, take the example of ‘safe experimentation‘. When robust security measures are in place, both developers and users can trust the software and systems they are interacting with. This trust enables developers to experiment and innovate without the fear of compromising security or breaching sensitive personal data. Knowing that security foundations are strong allows for greater freedom in exploring new ideas and pushing boundaries within the product ideation and development process.

What’s more, when cyber security capabilities are correctly implemented they can enable (rather than prevent) the use of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

When cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and blockchain are made available to employees, it can open up new avenues for innovation in other areas of the business. For example, AI can be used for understanding how clients use and interact with their product leading to insights that can revolutionise the UI or design of the product itself.

This can lead to groundbreaking innovations that drive business growth.

6. Long-Term Growth Through Customer Trust

Strong cyber security for SMBs also promotes long-term growth by fostering customer trust. Customers are more likely to do business with companies that prioritise data privacy and security (McKinsey & Company)​. This trust not only enhances brand reputation but also encourages customer loyalty and repeat business.

Case Study Icon Case Study

Take CyPro’s client, The Ozone Project for example – they have put data privacy and security at the centre of their business model and as a result are experiencing very strong market success.

Cyber Security for SMBs Is Completely Unique

While the benefits of cyber security for SMBs are clear, growing businesses face unique challenges in implementing effective cyber security capabilities:

1. Limited Time & Capacity

CxOs in rapidly growing businesses often lack the time and capacity to assess, design, implement, and maintain cyber security solutions. This can lead to vulnerabilities that go unnoticed until it’s too late.

2. Lack of Expertise

SMBs frequently lack the in-house cyber security specialists or technical subject matter experts needed to resolve complex security issues. This skills gap can leave businesses exposed to potential threats.

Download Your Free Cyber Incident Response Plan.
Download our free cyber incident response plan (including Ransomware runbook) just in case the worst happens.
Download
Playbook explaining how to survive a ransomware attackPlaybook explaining how to survive a ransomware attack

3. Unclear Direction

Without access to cyber security experts, SMBs may struggle to determine the best strategic direction for their security initiatives. This can result in fragmented or ineffective security measures.

4. More Modest Budgets

Unlike large enterprises with multi-million pound budgets for security, SMBs need to be smarter with their cash. This means finding cost-effective yet robust solutions to protect their assets.

Lightbulb Icon Key Takeaway

The needs of growing business and SMBs are entirely different to well established enterprises – a different approach to cyber security is needed.

Strategies for Integrating Cyber Security for SMBs

Virtual CISO or Fractional CISO Services

Hiring a full-time Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) can be costly. Virtual CISO or fractional CISO services offer a cost-effective way to access expert guidance and oversight without the full-time salary.

Cyber as a Service

Outsourcing cyber security for SMBs through a Cyber as a Service (CaaS) model allows businesses to benefit from top-tier security solutions without the significant upfront investment. This model provides scalable security services tailored to your business needs.

Cyber Security Program Delivery

Implementing a comprehensive cyber security program involves a structured approach to identifying, assessing, and managing security risks. Partnering with experts to deliver a tailored cyber security program ensures that all aspects of your business are protected.

Conclusion

Cyber security for SMBs is not just a protective or reactive measure – it’s now a strategic investment that tangibly drives business growth. From targeting larger clients, improving operational efficiency to fostering innovation and delivering products to market quicker, robust cyber security practices can significantly enhance the overall growth trajectory of SMBs.

Building Your Business Case?

If you are building a business case within your organisation to get funding for cyber security and not sure where to start, ask us for advice. When it comes to cyber security for small businesses, we have helped many organisations get healthy cyber budgets through the development of a robust cyber business case.

Protect your small business and book time with one of our practice partners to explore further.

FAQ

Q: How can SMBs afford robust cyber security measures?

A: Getting support with your cyber security is only expensive if you use a company who is geared up for servicing enterprise clients. If you use a specialist cyber security provider for SMBs, they will have bespoke packages geared specifically for small to medium sized businesses.

For example, CyPro offers virtual and fractional CISO services, Cyber as a Service models, and scalable security solutions exclusively to SMBs to help them achieve robust protection without breaking the bank.

Q: What are the risks of not investing in cyber security?

A: It is well documented by research (Glemnet: The Dangers of Not Investing in Cyber Security) and NCSC guidance that failing to invest in cyber security can lead to;

– Data breaches
– Regulatory fines
– Financial losses
– Damage to brand and reputation
– Erosion of competitive advantage via loss of customer trust

All of which, can severely impact business growth.

Q: How to improve cyber security for my small business?

A: If you are a growing SMB without an established cyber security team, you likely won’t have the expertise or capacity in-house to do it yourself. As such, you’ll need external support from a company like CyPro.

We would begin with a rapid 1-2 week risk or cyber maturity assessment to identify vulnerabilities and your current state. The output of this would then inform a prioritised cyber roadmap which we could start executing against within a matter of 2-4 weeks. We’d agree the business priorities and start implementing measures like 2FA, security alerting and security testing to address the identified risks.

Q: What is the role of a virtual CISO in an SMB?

A: A virtual CISO provides strategic guidance and oversight for an SMB’s cyber security initiatives, helping to design, implement, and maintain effective security measures.

Read more about virtual CISOs here.

Share this post
Category
Published
May 28 - 2024
Author
Jonny Pelter
Post Tags
Cypro firewall showing robust network security
Secure your business.
Elevate your security, accelerate your growth. We take care of cyber security for high-growth companies, at every stage of their journey.
Get in touch
Related Posts
View All Posts
  • Exploring how much does a Virtual CISO cost today?
    Ultimate Guide: How Much Does a Virtual CISO Cost in 2024?

    Many CxO’s, founders and established IT professionals struggle to get clarity on how much a vCISO service costs and the…

  • A venture capitalist man does technical due diligence on a startup
    Expert Guide to Technical Due Diligence for Startups

    Unlock the secrets of technical due diligence for startups. This guide covers everything from assessing IT infrastructure to ensuring robust…

  • Virtual CISO standing in a red cape
    Do Small Companies Need a CISO?

    In the ever evolving world of digital business where companies need to balance security and customer trust with real-world realities…

We use cookies to enhance your experience, analyse site traffic, and for marketing purposes. For more information on how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Policy.

Schedule a Call