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How small firms can afford critical cyber-security investment

There is plenty of talk about what will be the big challenges for small businesses in 2024 and one issue on all the lists is the rising threat of cyber-attacks. But how can cash-strapped firms afford to strengthen protection?

Small firms need little reminding of the danger that cybercriminals pose, with the growing incidence of attacks well documented in 2023, but it seems there will be little respite for businesses in the year ahead. According to a recent thought piece on the issue, SMEs should be ready for wave after wave cyber-attacks in 2024.

Notably, the article argues that government figures for 2023 (that claimed that over half of smaller firms were hit a cyber-attack) were a considerable underestimate, with a significant number of companies prepared to pay ransoms to recover access and information rather than publicly admit that they had been victims.

What new cyber-threats are SMEs facing in in 2024?

As for 2024, among new trends in cyber criminality, the use of AI and deepfake technology are expected to make cyber-attacks easier to carry out, more sophisticated and harder to detect. Notably, criminals are set to increasingly target a key existing weakness is business cyber-security: human behaviour, and this makes small businesses particularly vulnerable.

Under-investment in cyber-security is an issue for the small business sector. This is partly based on the mistaken assumption that that their size has protected them. In fact, the opposite is true – it has put a bigger target on their back because the protection and practices that many have in place are inadequate and easy to exploit. The other main factor behind the cautious approach to investment is cost.

Funding SME cyber-security and how alternative lenders can help

A strong cyber-security framework is a must – covering both systems and employee training. Indeed, a new study from Sharp has identified the need for greater investment in cyber-security training.

However, such development comes with a price tag and given the current state of the market, it is understandable that under pressure small firms are reluctant or are unable to commitment large sums of money. Safeguarding cash flow has rarely been more challenging. But there are solutions and alternative finance is one.

Services such as invoice finance, asset finance and peer-to-peer lending are proving a vital source of capital for small businesses in the current funding climate (with 65% more SMEs experiencing difficulty in accessing finance from high-street banks). These alternative finance facilities, which offer a more easily accessible, affordable and personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and target recovery, stability and growth.

This profile has helped cement the reputation of alternative finance in the business sector, with a new study showing that more than 50% of small businesses are looking to use finance to achieve growth.

Small firm finance options for cyber-security investment

The warnings about cyber-attacks are clear for smaller firms and it is vital that they put the proper protection in place, not least as damaging attacks can easily prove fatal for such businesses. As such, given the challenges around accessing finance, it is important that companies are aware of all the finance options available to them, including the services of alternative lenders.

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

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