3 Security Myths That Could Jeopardize Your Small Business

on September 19, 2016

One of the biggest myths that I hear from our customers is that small businesses aren’t as susceptible to security breaches as large enterprises. The truth is, just because you’re small doesn’t mean you aren’t vulnerable. In fact, by 2019, the cost of cybercrime is expect to soar to $2 trillion.

Small businesses haven’t historically been the target of cybercrime, but that is changing: In the U.K. alone, nearly 75 percent of small businesses reported a security breach in 2015, an increase over the preceding two years. Why the change? Hackers prey on small businesses as opposed to larger ones because small businesses tend to have lower security defenses, which includes working on outdated software, often due to lack of financial and human resources.

This shift underscores how critical security is to businesses today. However, that small businesses aren’t at risk for security breaches is only one of the misconceptions I hear from our customers today.

Myth: The cloud isn’t secure

Chances are, if you’re a small business, you don’t have an in-house IT department. You might work with an external consultant, or you might just be doing it all yourself as many small business owners do. For this reason, many small businesses are moving their physical technology infrastructure to the cloud because of the many security benefits it provides. Cloud solutions give businesses peace of mind that their data is secure by providing automatic updates to ensure they are always benefitting from the latest security advances. And because business owners can rest easy knowing that they are always on the latest technology, they can spend their time doing what really matters – growing their business, acquiring new customers, etc.

This kind of always-on security is what drew Romax, one of the U.K.’s leading marketing communications businesses, to the cloud. The company moved to a combination of Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and on-premises solutions (a hybrid model) for enhanced security because it needed to be in compliance with tight information security policies regarding retaining client data. The company’s move to the cloud provided Romax owner Wesley Dowding with peace of mind knowing he could focus on his business. “I can go to sleep at night knowing that if the place went down, we’d still be able to serve our clients and our data is secured,” he said.

Myth: I’m not big enough to be susceptible to security risks

At Microsoft, our customers’ security is always top of mind. That’s why we invest more than a billion dollars per year in security-related research and development and build best-in-class security features into all of our cloud solutions that protect against security risks that small businesses may not realize they are susceptible to, such as:

  • Lost and/or stolen devices: With employees working across multiple devices from multiple locations, it’s not uncommon for devices to get lost or even stolen. Microsoft BitLocker, included in Windows 10, encrypts all data stored on the Windows operating system, ensuring that even if an employee leaves his mobile phone on the bus or has her laptop stolen from her car, the data stored on it remains secure.
  • Employee error: It takes something as simple as an employee opening the wrong mail or clicking on the wrong link to compromise your systems and data. To help thwart the risk of this kind of employee error, Microsoft Outlook comes with built-in anti-phishing detection to help prevent fraudulent email messages from even reaching your employees in the first place.
  • Outdated technology: Running outdated solutions has a significant impact on small businesses –  data shows that small businesses that are running the latest technologies can increase their annual revenues 15 percentage points faster and create jobs twice as fast as businesses using outdated solutions. On top of that, a different study revealed that 91 percent of consumers said they would stop doing business with a company because of its outdated technology. With Office 365 and Windows 10, security updates happen automatically so you never have to worry about whether or not you are protected against the latest threats.
  • Weak passwords: Hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated, and if your passwords (and your employees’ passwords) aren’t becoming more sophisticated at the same time, you could be at risk for a breach. Fortunately, Windows 10 users benefit from the Windows Hello & Microsoft Passport features that enable them to replace passwords with biometric authentication such as face, iris or fingerprint identification for greater security.
  • Data backup: Backing up your files can help reduce losses in the event of a physical security breach – like a break-in at your office or stolen devices – and get you back up and running quickly. Microsoft OneDrive for Business – included in all Office 365 commercial plans – provides a secure place to store documents in the cloud so you can always access them from anywhere or any device – even when you’re offline.

Myth: If I haven’t been compromised yet, what I’m doing is probably enough

Security experts like to say that there are two kinds of buisnesses in the world today: Those that have been hacked and those that don’t know they have been hacked yet. Data from a recent cybercrime study proved this to be true: according to the Ponemon Institute, it takes – on average – 170 days to detect a malicious attack.

It was just such a situation Chelgrave Contracting, an Australian maintenance and labor hire company, found itself facing. The company’s General Manager, Greg Scott, discovered the company’s antivirus software had expired six weeks before without triggering an alert. The lapse prompted a minor virus attack, with only luck preventing the company’s PCs from develop a major virus outbreak, Scott says.

Chelgrave turned to Microsoft Intune, which includes endpoint protection built on Microsoft’s powerful Malware Protection Engine, enabling Scott to provide all Chelgrave PCs with real-time security updates. Remote and mobile employees now receive these updates simply by connecting to the Internet, ensuring their laptops retain the highest levels of protection.

This example underscrores the importance of not letting your security lapse – after all, security breaches can be devastating to small businesses – and making sure you are using the right technology, like Windows 10, Intune and Office 365, that protects you 24/7.

Truth: Security is vital to small business success

Security will continue to play an increasingly vital role in the success of SMBs, which are targeted by hackers now more than ever before. Taking basic steps will make your business safer, but using Microsoft technology allows a business and its employees the peace of mind that their data — their own and clients’ — is secured.