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How SMEs can afford cyber-protection for the new-look business world

The rush for digital space and the clamour for hybrid working environments has exposed the vulnerability of small businesses to cyber-attacks. There is an urgent need to beef up SME cyber-protection systems. The question is, how can these firms afford it?

The pandemic has accelerated the trend for doing business online – between April and July 2020, a total of 85,000 businesses launched an online store, and this growth is likely to have remained steady ever since.

At the same time, millions of employees have had to work at home. While offices are beginning to reopen, a greater degree of remote working is set to remain a fixture of corporate culture. And then there is the growing bring-your-own-device workplace trend (a recent survey revealed that over 80% of businesses actively enable this practice).

SME cyber-attack vulnerability and what’s behind it

While the move online, or the growth of online operations, and the ability to work from home have proved crucial during the pandemic, they have left business increasingly exposed to cyber-crime, in particular smaller firms, which are in a weaker position in terms of being able to invest in stronger protection.

Notably, new research from Arctic Wolf found that almost three quarter of decision-makers at small businesses in the UK feel that their companies lack the in-house expertise and capabilities to defend against cyber-attacks. Tellingly, more than half admitted that cyber-security planning is regularly deemed less important than other business objectives.

As for managing the impact of the bring-your-own-device workplace trend and the use of personal devices for work purposes, a new study has revealed that many businesses rely on old tools for protection, with just under a third of firms surveyed having not malware in place at all, and just 11% using cloud-based malware protection tools.

The urgency behind cyber-security investment and how to do it

The findings of these various new studies, and the results of previous ones, make it clear that small businesses have to do more in terms of cyber-protection, both with regard to their online presence and how employees use devices outside of the traditional office environment.

However, investing in stronger cyber-defences comes at a cost, and right now, smaller firms are under unprecedented pressure and accessing capital for investment is far from easy. So, what can they do?

Alternative finance can help.

SME cyber-security and how alternative lenders can help

With regard to alternative finance, in the wake of prolonged caution from traditional lenders, which is an issue that has returned during the pandemic, services such as invoice finance, asset finance and peer-to-peer lending, are proving a vital source of capital for small businesses, both for maintaining cashflow and for essential investment.

These facilities, which offer a more easily accessible and personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and target recovery and regrowth.

Furthermore, alternative lending is playing a prominent role in the government’s headline emergency support scheme, the Recovery Loan Scheme (open until the end of 2021). Invoice finance and asset finance between £1,000 and £10 million per business are available under the initiative. This profile is helping cement the reputation of alternative finance in the business sector.

Stronger cyber protection and SME finance options

For small businesses to recover and target regrowth going forward, strong cyber-security is a must, both to protect ecommerce operations and to ensure that hybrid working is done safely. As such, it is important that decision-makers are aware of all the finance options available to them, from government funding schemes and traditional bank facilities to the services of alternative lenders.

To find out more about A&T Business Associates services for commercial property investors, contact Tony Hedger on 01903 602211 or tony.hedger@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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