The proliferation and use of devices such as personal smart phones and tablets at work, commonly called bring your own device (BYOD), is one the biggest cybersecurity threats faced by SMEs, according to Kevin Timms, COO and co-founder of IT services aggregator, Streamwire.
This and a general lack of awareness at the board level are the primary issues that need to be tackled in 2017. Kevin said:
"In the past year, it seems a day hasn't gone past where a high-profile cyber breach is documented in the media, and it seems that this will see no slowdown in the year ahead. But at the same time this has often overlooked the difficulties that smaller organisations face, particularly on limited resources or having smaller IT support teams whose main activity is to keep basic systems functioning, rather than understanding the cyber security threat.
This has caused SMEs to become highly susceptible to cyber breaches as hackers face less resistance in compromising systems and stealing valuable data. Increasing understanding throughout the hierarchy of an organisation and avoiding relying exclusively on outsourcing their security to a third-party can offer an initial stepping stone in improving cyber security in 2017."
While SMEs have had a tougher time adjusting to the issues of cyber security, the 2017 report by Tenable Network Security found that UK security professionals' confidence in accurately assessing cyber risks has fallen from 73 per cent to 59 per cent from 2016's report. The research also found that the biggest challenges facing IT security professionals today included "low security awareness among employees" and a "lack of network visibility" due to bring your own device (BYOD) practices and shadow IT. Kevin continued:
"The research identifies a critical problem affecting organisations of all sizes when it comes to tackling cyber security, but does suggest that it stems from a lack of understanding among employees in contributing to this lack of confidence in the sector. Additionally, as SMEs seek innovative approaches such as BYOD practices to help stand out from the crowd, this is resulting in poor network visibility causing another layer of cyber security complications. Encrypting BYOD devices and guaranteeing that it is as secure as other systems in an organisation can help solve the visibility and security issues here."
Kevin concluded: "With constant threats lurking around the corner, organisations must be quick to understand the cyber security issues facing them, otherwise they could see systems breached or even having customers look elsewhere to better cater for their security needs. Cyber security is an issue that is here to stay and addressing SMEs innovative approaches to businesses will play a significant role in helping increase confidence in cyber security."