Today’s digital economy is growing at a rapid rate. Small and medium enterprises are venturing into newer markets by leveraging the power of the internet. Though embracing the internet boosts company growth in the market, it makes them vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches. Cyber risks are critical, and small businesses need to understand and manage them. Smaller businesses cannot afford to invest in sophisticated cybersecurity systems, which makes them even more vulnerable. MSME sector is the backbone of the Indian economy. According to the official data – there are presently 6.33 crore MSMEs.
While SMEs have simpler data-handling processes than larger organizations, this does not make them any less vulnerable to the impact of a breach, or any less liable should they fail to meet regulatory requirements. Since they lack the resources for cyber defences, they can be seen as a soft targets by cyber criminals. This leaves SME leaders grappling with the critical challenge of implementing an effective cybersecurity strategy.
Cybersecurity is the preservation and protection of the privacy, integrity and accessibility of data, with the aim of minimizing the occurrence and impact of information security incidents and sustaining business continuity and performance. Cybersecurity is achieved by applying and managing appropriate controls in response to various potential threats. Cybersecurity breaches can come with hidden costs that are difficult to quantify, including the loss of potential business.
Data breaches are the most obvious threats leading to the loss of sensitive or confidential information. Such a privacy breach can result from a cyber-attack. This could include phishing or because of accidental or unauthorized sharing of data. The financial and commercial costs of such a breach for smaller firms can be crippling. Data protection violations can result in severe fines being levied against violating organizations as well as penalties for individuals, usually senior executives who are found to be personally responsible.
Cybersecurity is not only about risk management but also an opportunity to look into the health of the business. Effectively managing cybersecurity of the business can give companies a distinct advantage over competitors, particularly if they are associated with larger organizations that apply stringent rules when choosing their suppliers and business partners. Having easy-to-follow cyber security procedures will empower people to work effectively and remain safe from cybersecurity breaches.
Standards can play an important and supportive role in helping develop and improve cybersecurity practices. Applying cybersecurity standards requires evaluating the risks an organization is exposed to and the benefits that can be gained by implementing good cyber hygiene practices. Organizations will need to consider the right level of controls to be applied to different groups of employees, including remote workers, to ensure that data is protected while also giving them hassle-free access to it. Standards help by providing a reliable and consistent framework for such management.
Implementing robust security measures and ensuring regulatory compliance can seem onerous for an SME, requiring tasks such as completing a security audit and educating employees that cybersecurity is the responsibility of everyone in an organization and not just IT specialists. By following the best practice that standards promote, businesses can make the process straightforward, ensure their approach is up to date, and protect their organization and its people from harmful outcomes.
MSMEs have an opportunity to focus on cybersecurity as well as secure as they grow. Standards can protect businesses from cyber risks, enable more efficient ways of working, strengthen customer trust, and open up new opportunities. All of this leads to improved business performance and organizational resilience.
The article has been written by Nirupam Sen, Business Head – North & East Region, BSI India