Cyber Security: Ignorance isn’t Bliss

Last week, AMI-Partners attended Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular in NYC. On hand were over 80 vendors offering digital solutions ranging from long range WiFi innovations to temperature controlled coffee mugs. One vendor that we visited was Bitdefender, an internet security software company. This got us thinking about how security breaches are impacting the small and medium business (SMB) market in 2016 and beyond. We’ll use our Global Forecast Model for predictions, but for now, some details on Bitdefender and cyber security.

Bitdefender was in attendance to promote its 2017 product line. This release includes a cloud and machine learning algorithm, which offers ransomware protection across Windows, Android, and Mac platforms. It also introduces Wi-Fi Security Advisor, which assesses the security of networks that users connect to on the go, such as those in coffee shops and airports, and reports on any vulnerability. The BYOD trend has increased the risk of information getting into the wrong hands without malicious user intent. An additional feature from Bitdefender is called Snap Photo (Windows and Android only) that uses a mobile device’s camera to take and send pictures to a central user account to aid in the recovery of a stolen device. Ransomware protection is a clear and present concern for businesses of all sizes.

Ransomware is a particularly dangerous type of malware that encrypts and/or locks digital files and demands a ransom to release them. The files that perform these devious tasks infiltrate a system in three primary ways:

  • Email attachments
  • URLs in emails
  • Malicious code placed on legitimate websites

Ransomware can lead to a company losing its proprietary information that sets it apart from the competition. The theft of intellectual property can lead to public dissemination and cause the loss of a competitive advantage. In this ever increasing digital world, information that once sat in a bank vault or was confined to the minds of the C-suite is now stored where both friend and foe can potentially access it. Once this information is restricted as a result of the attack, the ensuing disruption to regular operations can set a company back in terms of lost productivity and the cost of restoring the system and bringing up new files. A recent AMI study found that of US small and medium businesses reporting a security breach, 43% and 66% respectively experienced system down time and reduced productivity following the event.

So how can you and your business stay safe?

The best strategy for guarding what matters most to you in the digital world is not all that dissimilar to how you would protect yourself in the physical world. A proactive and then reactive plan is needed to first deter a would-be attacker and then to confine and lessen the damage done by the digital thief. The human factor is often to blame for breaches. Employees open email attachments, click on links, and unknowingly browse infected websites. Being proactive means training your employees and having software solutions in place to deal with threats. The reality is all attacks cannot be stopped. One way or another, threats make it into the system.

The SMB market is especially at risk. The resources available to large businesses for cyber security are not readily available to the SMB market due to cost constraints. An accounting firm with 11 employees cannot spend like a Fortune 500 company on security. With over 6.5M small and medium businesses in the United States alone, there is a very sizable market in place that needs security solutions.

According to AMI-Partners’ Global Model, total worldwide security spending in 2016 will be $43.8B by the SMB market. Secure content management software alone is predicted to total just under $5.5B with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1% to 2020. Spending on security solutions that are delivered via the cloud, like that of Bitdefender, are expected to be $5.4B this year with a projected CAGR above 20% over the same period. Security providers would be wise to target these customers with effective products so that SMB owners can focus on running their business. Ignorance isn’t bliss, especially when it comes to security.

Andrew Svonavec, Associate

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