IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Helping Small Businesses with Compliance Is an Opportunity

IT providers stand to gain more long-term business relationships by ensuring clients are both empowered with the best cybersecurity practices and compliant with regulators. By Naomi Hodges

With the ever-changing data regulatory requirements, such as the EU’s GDPR in 2018 and various U.S. state-level laws, pressure has mounted on businesses of all sizes to meet the demands or face tough consequences. To lack adequate safeguards is to gamble with the trust and confidence of clients and customers. In addition, it’s a huge red flag for investors who remain vigilant of how data is handled.

The onset of these strict regulations, together with new technological advancements, have left many small businesses in a lurch; unable to adequately assess and maintain their systems, many businesses now risk failing to comply. Why? Employing in-house IT experts is costly and resources are often better placed delivering service to clients and customers.

No system is 100% hacker proof, or free from the threat of malware or ransomware. For smaller businesses in particular, a cyberattack could have catastrophic consequences if there’s no expert help to call upon. Not only can such an event cause damage to customers and client relations, but failing to notify regulators––or even having an effective crisis response procedure––can result in legal action.

IT providers now stand in a favorable position to become a lifeline for such businesses by offering additional ongoing managed compliance solutions. Businesses can then ensure their IT infrastructures remain up to date while staying on the safe side of compliance regulations.

Dovetailing with Advanced Cybersecurity

Compliance is no easy task. The objective of managed compliance solutions is to help manage and monitor the usage of company data to prevent loss and breaches. It’s an additional service that goes hand in hand with providing advanced cybersecurity.

The first step is to identify vulnerabilities and risk-assess the entire IT infrastructure to get a baseline on compliance before upgrading existing hardware or software.

For example, it’s becoming more attractive for businesses to utilize cloud services for much of their IT needs. Although this is a surefire way to keep data within a secure perimeter, vulnerabilities still exist outside of that framework. Are employees using their own device? How do businesses connect to the internet? Have they utilized hardware such as VPN routers?

In addition, it’s important to implement the correct policies and procedures for how data is stored and transmitted by ensuring it is regularly backed up, encrypted, and has restricted access. This coincides with drawing up data retention policies to deal with the deletion of sensitive information after a period of time.

Even producing education and training materials for employees to encourage safer online practices––whether it’s how to create passwords or changing their habits––can help in preventing data loss.

Developing and maintaining IT infrastructure is complex and costly in itself, but even more laborious is adhering to stringent regulations that can change quickly. Outsourcing these tasks to highly skilled IT experts diminishes the risk of falling foul to regulatory bodies. 

Furthermore, a reliable team of IT professionals can often respond quicker to security breaches while minimizing downtime for system repairs. With outsourced experts, small businesses can benefit from staying in the regulatory safe zone by keeping up to date when changes occur.

The traditional modus operandi for IT providers looks to be undergoing a change; simply providing one-off services for building IT systems may have the effect of leaving clients out in the cold. IT providers now stand to gain more long-term business relationships by ensuring their clients are both empowered with the best cybersecurity practices and compliant with regulators.

NAOMI HODGES is a cybersecurity advisor and a contributing writer at Surfshark, a VPN provider based in the British Virgin Islands. She specializes in network security, virtual private networks, and privacy-related issues. At work, she’s busy fighting for a safer internet and pushing a privacy agenda forward, as well as helping a broad range of clients shape and refine their security efforts. Hodges is an engineering professional holding a bachelor’s degree with a focus on information security from the University of Reading. 

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