IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Making I.T. Security a Priority for SMBs

Stressing the importance of cyber-protection for smaller businesses remains a challenge. How do you help them take action? By Andrew Bagrin

Every day it seems there’s a new headline noting a cybersecurity attack or a sweeping data breach at a major organization. High-profile hits such as Target, and most recently Home Depot and P.F. Chang’s, have rattled consumers and corporations alike, and brought the conversation on personal and professional IT security front and center.

But for many channel partners, stressing the importance of digital protection for smaller businesses remains a challenge. Why? Because many small businesses believe they’re well protected with their easy-to-download anti-virus and malware solutions, and they simply don’t see themselves as targets for cybercriminals.

The reality is quite the opposite: 87 percent of all data breaches affect small businesses, according to Verizon’s 2013 Data Break Investigations Report. As a result, many of these businesses close their doors within six months. Other statistics surrounding cybercrime and SMBs in the report are just as unsettling:

  • 1 in 5 small businesses falls victim to cybercrime each year
  • $300,000 is the average cost of a single cyber-attack
  • 97 percent of data breaches could have been avoided with today’s technology

But the stats alone won’t sway most small businesses. Channel partners must call out the vulnerabilities within the SMB’s existing solution and make the case for managed IT security, also commonly called security as a service (SECaaS).

Why SECaaS Is a Better Play for SMBs
Simply stated, SECaaS offers channel partners and the SMBs they serve a much more comprehensive, proactive security solution that can be easily customized and managed. And unlike traditional, reactive, anti-virus products, SECaaS protects businesses from cyber-attacks and data breaches by scanning for threats in the cloud, before they reach clients’ networks. This not only delivers a better layer of protection for SMBs, it practically eliminates bandwidth pollution.

Another issue to discuss with your SMB clients is that anti-virus software is susceptible to the very threats it’s supposed to prevent. Malware seeks out anti-virus code and disables it, enabling threats to sidestep protective measures and invade computers, networks, and point-of-sale systems. With cloud-based security, this confusion and cyber-sabotage can generally be avoided, further ensuring businesses are protected on all fronts.

Growth Potential: A $71.1 Billion Market
From a sales perspective, SECaaS opens up a new revenue stream for channel partners looking to take advantage of the information security market, which is predicted to reach $71.1 billion by year’s end, according to Gartner Inc.’s Forecast Overview: Information Security Worldwide, 2014 Update. In the report, Gartner also notes that 30 percent of security controls deployed to the SMB segment will be cloud-based by 2015.

Another value point to selling SECaaS is that it’s easy to manage, even remotely, and complements a number of cloud-based IT offerings that many channel partners already have in place at client sites. Installation is quick and the technology, by design, provides MSPs with the flexibility to manage clients’ network and security settings without having to employ security experts on staff.

But not all cloud-based security solutions are created equal. Many options on the market are too complex or expensive for SMBs. With the right solution, channel partners can protect businesses in vertical markets such as retail, hospitality, and professional services without sacrificing the security these businesses need to protect both customer and company data. SECaaS solutions can also bolster a VAR’s or MSP’s value add and profitability through billable services such as installation and remote management and monitoring.

Security threats to SMBs are real and growing, which means the opportunity for channel partners to profit from cloud-based security is here and now. Don’t wait for a client to become a statistic. Be proactive and help the company protect itself and the customers it serves.

ANDREW BAGRIN is the founder and CEO of My Digital Shield (MDS), a provider of security as a service (SECaaS) for small businesses. With more than 17 years’ experience in the IT security industry, Bagrin started MDS in 2013 to bring cloud-based, enterprise-level security technology to small businesses at an affordable price.