3 Reasons tech security should be a priority for SMEs

A visual representation of the "lock" key for computer security.

Technology is an “essential part” of SMEs’ growth – so much so that almost 80% of companies agreed with that statement in a recent survey. Yet in another study, 76% admitted they “struggle to identify, quantify and mitigate threats rapidly”.

This disconnect between the need to rely on technology to grow and the ability to protect that technology, and the critical information it holds, is a serious problem for SMEs today. They must begin to prioritise technology security, and not just because they need technology to grow. They must prioritise technology security for three critical reasons.

1. SMEs don’t have the overhead to replace equipment easily

Put simply, SMEs tend to have incredibly tight budgets, and those budgets don’t easily allow for the replacement of key pieces of technology.

With systematic technology security in place, businesses can track and monitor their gadgets and devices. They can increase the security of the equipment by physically locking up critical technology, and they can immediately tell if their equipment has been lost, allowing businesses to take steps to prevent further loss immediately. For mobile technology like smartphones and laptops, they can use identifying stickers like those provided by TechTagger to provide anonymous contact details, in case the device is lost and the person who finds it wants to return it.

All of these measures ensure that equipment doesn’t go missing in the first place, but if it does, there’s a better chance of recovery. That way, tight budgets aren’t further strained by the unnecessary expense of replacing lost devices.

2. A lost laptop costs more than just the cost of a laptop

Of course, the technology SMEs use is worth more than just the physical object. There is also the costs associated with productivity, the costs associated with security and the costs associated with confidential business information to consider. When those are all added together, a single lost mobile phone or tablet can cost a business upwards of £13,823, according to a recent survey conducted by Vanson Bourne. Further, a 2010 study conducted by the Ponemon Institute found that a lost laptop cost companies on average $6.4 million (£3.82 million).

Technology security can protect SMEs here, too. It ensures that passwords and other forms of digital protection are in place across all devices, that they are strong enough to withstand most cyber attacks and that they are regularly updated to keep devices protected. It also puts in place employee training, so employees understand how to use the security and why they need it in the first place. With that, the full cost of losing a laptop is lowered, because the threat to valuable data is lowered.

3. SMEs are coming under increasing cyber attacks

A recent Security Threat Report conducted by Symantec has found that cyber attacks on SMEs increased threefold in 2011 alone. This means that a full 31% of all targeted attacks were launched on small and medium-sized enterprises.

Experts have different ideas why this may be the case, but whatever the reason, SMEs are becoming bigger targets. That carries serious implications both for the businesses themselves and for any other companies they may have ties to. Given businesses have a duty of care to protect the confidential data they have, a lack of technology security could also mean more than a loss of sensitive information. It could also leave companies vulnerable to expensive lawsuits. That is perhaps the most important reason every SME must prioritise technology security.

Whether it’s because they can’t afford to replace the equipment as often, because they can’t afford to lose sensitive information or because they are increasingly seen as easy targets by criminals, SMEs must find the time and money to make technology security a priority. Otherwise, they are simply biding their time, trying to coast by on anonymity alone – an anonymity they constantly seek to shed as they grow larger and more prominent in their field. Either SMEs prioritise technology security, or they eventually become victims – it’s as simple as that.