SMBs, Cyber Security, & Awareness
While at a Cyber security conference recently, I attended a seminar on the advances in cyber security solutions for small to medium sized companies. The seminar started out like many I have seen. There were lots of stats about how hackers were targeting small and medium sized businesses. Things like 43% of small to medium sized businesses were breached last year and 60% of those attacked would be out of business in 6 months due to client loss and expenses associated with an attack.
The room was full of small and medium sized business owners. Most of them sat quietly absorbing the information and statistics. As the speaker continued, I could tell the attendees were not engaged. It was amazing to watch business owners faced with a very real and present threat not be the least bit concerned about it. I admit that I really didn’t understand the reaction I was seeing.
As I returned home the next day I couldn’t get the reaction of the attendees off my mind. Why didn’t they have any sense of urgency about cyber awareness, cyber risk, or data loss? What was I missing?
After wrestling with this question for a few days I decided to call a few of my own clients to ask them some questions and see if I could get some insight. What I learned was eye opening!
There were several answers to my questions, but one answer seemed to outweigh all the rest.
“Cyber breaches happen to the other guy. I’m not worried about it.”
It was so simple. Small to medium sized business owners see cyber breaches as attacks on large institutions like governments, Fortune 500 companies, large hospitals, and companies with huge data repositories. The statistics that prove that cyber criminals are shifting attack strategies to SMBs because of less protection, just didn’t matter. If your neighbor has not been attacked then the issue is out of sight out of mind. It’s just that simple!
The second most popular answer was one I understood based on the first response. Cyber protection is just the latest issue being propagated to sell more products. Cynicism is a strong force in the SMB community.
What I learned from SMB owners is that they have so many other worries, cyber security is just not a pressing priority. Many talked about government regulations, healthcare demands, taxes, higher wages, increased production costs, difficulty finding people who want to work, compliance and safety, financial pressures, etc. Cyber security just isn’t on the radar.
As someone that is involved in cyber security, and aware of the pressing nature of the threats and the growing sophistication of criminal cyber organizations I am concerned about the vulnerabilities of businesses owners in the SMB space. I see a massive increase in attacks on SMBs. I understand that cyber criminals are opportunists. They have crunched the numbers. It is far easier and much less dangerous to attack 100 small to medium sized businesses than it is to penetrate the security of a Fortune 500 company. Hackers play the odds, and they know breaching and profiting from multiple attacks on SMBs is almost fool proof. Bottom line, odds are they will never get caught.
As I thought about how to reach out to my SMB friends, I started to put myself in their shoes. After all, I understand all the pressures that SMB owners face every day. I am a partner in a small to medium sized business. The difference is that I understand the urgency of the risk. It is on my radar every day. I speak with SMBs that have been victims. I understand the fight to recover from a breach. I have seen business owners lose clients and go out of business after an attack. It’s real to me. That’s one of the big reasons I wanted to start a company to help SMBs with cyber security. It was personal. What I didn’t realize is that I had become so close to it that I no longer saw it from my customer’s perspective.
So, I threw all my sales strategies out of the window and started fresh. I thought about what was important to me and why I built my company in the first place. (By the way, I suggest this to all of my SMB friends. If you have been in business for a while, take a minute and remember why you started in the first place.) The process took me back to my roots and put my priorities in perspective.
First, I helped build our business because I had a purpose. I wanted to use my knowledge to help my fellow SMB owners. I wanted to be their trusted partner. I wanted to help them grow and protect their businesses. I remembered how much I enjoyed making and cultivating new relationships. I remembered that many of them were now my friends.
Second, I wanted to help protect their employees. The health of the company was tied to the health and well-being of employees that depend on the company to buy houses, raise kids, go to college, and build better their lives.
Third, I wanted to help stop the bad guys. Cyber criminals and unethical hackers are basic street criminals. Cyber criminals are cowards that steal and hide behind the anonymity of cyber space.
With my new awareness guiding my way, I changed my approach to offering cyber security solutions. It’s not about the products, the stats, or the fear associated with unknown risk. It’s about helping to educate fellow SMB owners and getting them to understand the consequences of being unprepared. Being prepared is not about a purchase, it is about protecting the years of hard work and sacrifice it takes to build a business. It’s about protecting employees and their families. It’s about peace of mind.
Our company, The Tek, is on a mission. Our mission is to help you protect your company. Our pledge is to offer you common sense affordable cyber security solutions that work. It’s just that simple.
If you are not sufficiently protected let’s talk. We would like to learn about your business and help you secure it for the future, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there…The Tek.
Rick Miller Partner and CBDO The Tek