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The case for security-as-a-service for budding SMEs

security-as-a-service smes laptop apple sergey zolkin unsplash

It isn’t a case of if a small to medium enterprise, startup, entrepreneur and genius business idea will be hacked. No, today it is a case of when.

Ransomware, fraud, hacks, breaches — the list is fairly endless, especially as cybercrime continues to evolve at a rapid rate. Research undertaken by Barclays Bank in the UK has found that cyber fraud costs the SME around £1000 (R17 000) every, single time, and cost more than 50 000 jobs.

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he impact is vast and the reality, according to Experian, is that around 51% of small businesses don’t have a response plan in place, 39% don’t think they’re at risk and 30% don’t have plans to deal with security threats.

The problem is that the cost of investing into security tools and plans is higher than the possible cost of a breach. The mentality of ‘I’m too small to be of interest’ hasn’t been cracked by enough breaches yet, and the weight of economy is more pressing. The startup doesn’t usually have the budget to pay for high-level security software and the staff that are required to maintain and implement it.

Which is why the Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS) model is quite possibly the best thing to happen to the SME since high-speed broadband. They can select the products they want, when they want. There are so many different types and size of security solution available so choosing can be complex. In the past a selection was a permanent investment, today they can try it out, see if it fits, and move on. The flexibility of SECaaS means they can change the solution when it doesn’t work for them.

There are numerous SECaaS software providers that are trying to create a full SECaaS software solution that can cater for security, networking, word processing and business tools. Some allow you access to a portal where you can pick and choose the solution you need at any given point in time — adding in security plus a spot of word processing or sales management. The concept of as a service extends into most areas of the business now. Also, having everything based under one service provider also means that the issues of support and management are centrally managed. The other thing the SME never has is time.

SECaaS is driven by the fact that most large software vendors have realised that the small business and startup can’t afford to buy software, buy it’s upgrade again, and then repeat. They get client retention on the SECaaS model so they are inspired to make the pricing more attractive so the SME can now afford really high-end security solutions on a subscription-based model that fits their budget. It puts them on the same competitive platform as the large corporate, which is a very nice place to be.

Another area that’s showing growth in the as-a-service space is Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS). Now even the startup can have a firewall even though they don’t have the technical knowledge that is usually required to have the best solutions. Managed security solutions offer tools that span from firewall to LAN without the hassle for the SME. They still need to put basic IT policies in place — email usage, internet usage, security dos and do nots — but they don’t have to drill down into the complexities. Instead, these sit with the service provider.

However, while SECaaS really is the ideal fit for the SME, it doesn’t mean that you’re now invulnerable. Most hacks, breaches, virus infections and ransomware attacks are prevented by basic user education. It doesn’t matter how fancy your software is when your users don’t know the rules.

Feature image: Sergey Zolkin via Unsplash

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