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How “bring your own” adds new dimension to SME cybersecurity costs

For small business owners, the need for strong cybersecurity needs little reiterating. However, the growing “bring-your-own-device” trend has introduced a new threat. How can these firms afford to keep their cybersecurity up to scratch? Alternative finance can help.

The need for businesses to have a higher level of cybersecurity is hardly a revelation – over the last 12 months, the topic has regularly made national headlines and has been a staple of business publications – but the increasingly popular policy among SMEs of allowing employees to use personal laptops, tablets and smartphones for work purposes is asking a new question of the cyber-protection infrastructure that firms have in place.

According to a new study, over 60% of SMEs have experienced a cybersecurity incident since introducing a bring-your-own policy. Interestingly, is it the larger SMEs that are getting attacked most often. While it is easy to understand why firms would put this policy in place, as they look for cost savings and productivity gains at a time when margins are being stretched increasingly thin, this research suggests that doing so comes with a significant risk.

As it seems unlikely that the “bring-your-own” policy will be scrapped given current market conditions, the onus falls on businesses to tighten their cybersecurity measures, including better educating employees about their responsibilities. Given the threat to customer data and the need to comply with GDPR legislation, this is a step that needs to happen sooner rather than later. And it is a step that comes at a cost.

SMEs are already at a disadvantage when it comes to cybersecurity, with the combination of less time and fewer resources making them more vulnerable to attacks. There is less money to upgrade systems and offer training, and less time to spend on properly understanding what the risks are, how businesses can be attacked and how to be protected against the likes of malware, distributed denial of service, viruses, data theft and phishing. And the growing popularity of the “bring-your-own-device” practice just ramps up the pressure on small business owners.

So, how can they afford the cybersecurity that will protect their and their customer’s data, and keep them on the right side of the law? (There is a lot more to think about than just what is the best business anti-virus software.) Alternative finance can play a key role.

Access to finance is vital, and with traditional lenders remaining cautious with regard to small business lending, the likes of invoice finance, asset finance, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding are offering small businesses a means of raising capital for investment, such as cybersecurity, and of maintaining cashflow. More and more small businesses are using these facilities and benefiting from their accessibility, affordability and flexibility.

This is how a Sussex SME used peer-to-peer lending, through a commercial finance broker that specialises in alternative finance, to raise the money to buy new equipment.

Small business owners may well be growing wary about cybersecurity but the link between the “bring-your-own-device” practice and vulnerability to cyberattacks underlines the evolving nature of this phenomenon, and the need to keep on top of it. Protection comes at a cost, and for this reason SMEs need to be aware of all the funding options available to them.

Want to know more about what A&T Business Associates can do for your business? Contact Jon Rook-Allden on 01903 602211 or jra@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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