Are you protecting consumer data? Non-compliance can be costly for businesses, especially ones who think the regulations don’t apply to them.
Are you spending the right budget percentage on IT services? The answer is most likely no, since most organizations spend too little and in the wrong areas.
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IT is leveling the playing field for SMBs. SMBs can compete on nearly-equal footing with large enterprises in today’s IT environment.
In the world of technology, proactive adopters have a huge advantage over those who wait to implement a new technology until it has been fully tested. Proactively navigating the rapidly changing world of technology has historically been most difficult for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Due to the traditional cost and complexity of technology, these businesses have struggled with early adoption of cutting-edge technologies. This has allowed larger companies to dominate the first wave of benefits from emerging innovation, while smaller companies have played catch-up – or even settled for second-generation systems on a regularly revolving schedule as first-generation systems are developed.
Now, due to a much more robust, competitive market within technological innovation, as well as the ability to partner with experts in the effort to implement and stay on top of new systems, SMBs can compete on nearly-equal footing with large enterprises. Whether this occurs or not depends entirely on whether SMB owners and leaders understand and capitalize on the three areas in which technology is changing the way business is conducted: the cloud, mobility, and security. In part one of this two-part series, we’ll explore the benefits of cloud services for SMBs.
Everything as a Service: Doing Business in the Cloud
The central benefit of using cloud services is cost-effectiveness. It is the relatively low cost of cloud-based datastorage, cloud-based applications and software, and cloud-based security measures that truly level the playing field for SMBs. Implementing cloud-based services can minimize the economic impact to your IT budget by guaranteeing a predictable monthly cost and uptime for your IT environment. A managed service provider (MSP) converts your organization’s IT spend from a capital expenditure to a predictable and manageable monthly operating expense, much like a utility.
Cloud services can be tailored to specific requirements, especially where compliance may be an issue – and more and more, compliance is an issue affecting businesses of all sizes:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), healthcare-related compliance requirements to protect patient data
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), credit card industry compliance requirements to protect consumers
- Sarbanes–Oxley (SOX), governmental compliance regulations to ensure the reliability of financial reporting by public companies and their accounting firms
- The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) governs compliance for banks and banking industry organizations
While compliance is something larger enterprises implement as a matter of course, smaller businesses may only begin to consider these requirements as they grow (or after they’re fined for non-compliance). When choosing cloud services, security is one of the most important considerations. You need to know where your data is stored and who has access to it, accounting for both digital security and physical security. An IT partner who focuses on maximizing the benefits of your cloud services, which scale to your need. If you store highly-sensitive or valuable information, this option is a much better fit than the public cloud and the only option for businesses of any size who require secure operations.
Understanding and implementing solid cloud, mobile, and security systems has the potential to even the playing field for SMBs. Successfully carrying out this integrated approach can help you grow beyond the traditional constraints of your industry, taking you to places you never imagined you could go. In these areas, thinkCSC has the expertise and experience to help your organization compete effectively in our evolving technological world.
For many years, organizations have argued that security budgets are already stretched to the max and that there is no more room for increased security. With costly security breaches impacting governments, social media platforms, the IRS, and more small and mid-size businesses than we can count, the investment in security suddenly seems like the least expensive option.
IT Security vs. Security Breach
Whether you increase your spending on IT security or simply find a better way to spend your budget, one thing is certain: what you spend on IT security is a predictable, planned cost that doesn’t send your shareholders into a panic, doesn’t make your customers question their loyalty, and doesn’t put you out of business. A security breach, on the other hand, can result in fines, lawsuits, costly recovery, and a loss of customers.
If your organization has decided to increase IT security, how do you make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment? We recommend focusing on these areas:
Email is still one of the most popular ways for hackers to penetrate your security, because all it takes is one email on one employee’s system compelling them to open an attachment or click on a link to create a breach that will affect your entire IT infrastructure. People will always be the weakest link in security. Sender policy framework protocols, hosted email exchange services, and ongoing employee training are all essential. Download our email security guide to help your employees think before they click.
Every device that touches your network needs to be secure, whether it’s an employee-owned cell phone, vendor equipment, or a field tech’s laptop. It is crucial to identify every remote device that might potentially connect to your network; have a way to both detect that connection, protect that connection, and eliminate the connection if needed.
Enterprise threat detection uses predictive analytics on a powerful and global scale to recognize and block threats before they happen. Rather than relying on end users to determine the safety of a file or a site, it uses intelligence to stop threats by preventing malware-infected devices from connecting and by blocking phishing sites.
Backup and Data Recovery
Unless you want to be permanently locked out of your data or forced to pay a ransom to restore access, having an offsite backup and recovery service is essential. The email security, endpoint security, and threat detection efforts you implement will prevent many of the ransomware attempts from getting through, but all it takes is one employee clicking on one link in one email that sneaks through to create havoc.
Effective network security that keeps your IT environment efficient and stable is about applying layers. The initial layer is a solid backup and recovery solution, protected by an antivirus solution, and then guarded by a firewall. Enterprise threat detection, email security, and endpoint security are the shields that head off attacks on your business before they happen. It’s more than peace of mind: It’s good business sense.
At thinkCSC, we believe that in order to achieve maximum success, regardless of the size or type of organization, you must make IT an integral part of your overall business strategy and partner with IT professionals who not only understand how to leverage technology to your advantage but who are also committed to understanding your business goals and aligning your IT strategy to them. We pride ourselves on having the best business-savvy technical experts in the industry. If you would like to learn how to create an IT security strategy aligned with your organizational goals, contact thinkCSC for more information.