SMBs Plan Security Investments for 2020 Amid Growing Concern for Digital Threats
A new study revealed that small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are planning security investments for 2020 amid their growing concern for digital threats. This is one of the main takeaways from the Zix | AppRiver Cyberthreat Index for Business Q4 2019.
Potential Digital Threats Top-of-Mind for SMBs
The latest report from Zix | AppRiver revealed that SMBs of various sizes are concerned about digital threats now more than ever. Among those working at organizations with 50 to 149 employees, 89% of respondents said that digital attacks are a primary concern at their workplace. The ratio was even greater for those employed by organizations with 150 to 250 employees at 93%. Those rates represent the highest percentages for both segments since the survey’s inception.
The concerns cited above in part reflect a growing prevalence of digital threat incidents in SMBs’ respective industries. Indeed, 66% of executives working for SMBs with 50 to 149 employees said that those types of security incidents are prevalent in their industry. Eighty percent of participants based at SMBs with 150 to 250 employees agreed with this assessment.
Interestingly, 93% of SMB IT leaders and decision makers surveyed disclosed their belief that foreign adversaries constitute legitimate concerns for the digital security of their organization, industry and country. Zix | AppRiver CEO David Wagner noted that there’s a likely explanation for this concern. As quoted in a press release announcing the study’s findings:
“In 2019, we saw cyberattacks on our government trickle down from large agencies to smaller local municipalities and schools. That follows the pattern we’ve seen in business, where attacks have expanded from big corporations to small- and medium-sized businesses,” he stated. “While these attacks can originate from anywhere, the survey data shows that SMBs believe foreign actors and even nation-states may be targeting them as the first step toward access to larger companies or government agencies.”
Building onto this perceived threat from sophisticated foreign actors, a majority of SMBs are now concerned about the damages that their organization could face as the result of a successful digital attack. Close to three quarters (72%) of respondents said that an attack would be harmful to their business. Meanwhile, 22% admitted their belief that their employer would likely not continue to do business following a successful attack.
Greater Security Budget, Technology Investments Planned for 2020
Troy Gill, senior cybersecurity analyst at AppRiver, revealed that many SMBs are not taking their concerns about digital threats sitting down:
“It seems unusual that small and midsize companies are concerned about foreign powers, but with elections coming up in 2020, they have legitimate reasons to worry about becoming vulnerable entry points for outside entities,” he stated in the press release. “The silver lining is that they are actively planning to improve their security with new technology and better training for employees, which together, are a powerful combination.”
Looking ahead to the rest of 2020, 62% of SMB IT decision makers told Zix | AppRiver that it was their intention to increase their digital security budget. As part of those efforts, close to the same percentage of respondents (57%) stated that they hoped to invest in creating better security awareness training for their organization’s employees. Slightly more than that (58%) said they were planning to add more digital security technology.
SMBs can begin their security technology investments by purchasing a solution that analyzes incoming email messages for known campaign patterns, malicious IP addresses and other indicators. This tool should perform this type of analysis in real-time so as to provide constant protection to the organization. All the while, it should allow legitimate digital correspondence to reach their intended destination.
About the Zix | AppRiver Q4 Cyberthreat Index for Business Survey
The survey polled 1,049 cybersecurity decision-makers within U.S. SMBs (fewer than 250 employees), covering a diverse range of industry sectors. The Zix | AppRiver quarterly Cyberthreat Index for Business Survey measures SMB decision-maker attitudes and experiences across a variety of cybersecurity-related dimensions, culminating in a score that can be analyzed for change over time. The Q4 Index registered a score of 60.1 on a 100-point scale, holding steady after the previous quarter (60.5 in Q3) and indicating that SMBs are continuing to become more aware of today’s imminent cyberthreats and are making strides toward improving their security posture.