If you run a SME, you may think that data breaches and cybercrime are concerns mostly for big banks, retailers and telecoms companies. But you would be wrong, a data brach for an SME can damage a company for years to come, writes DARYL BLUNDELL, GM for Sage Pastel Accounting.
Not just for big firms
Even though headlines about data breaches and losses focus on big companies like Sony and Dropbox, small businesses are not immune. The UK’s Federation of Small Businesses found that 41% of SMEs in that country suffered from cybercrime last year. Though there’s a shortage of similar research for South Africa, our stats are likely to be in the same ballpark.
Small companies are, if anything, more vulnerable than larger counterparts because their defences tend to be weaker. They don’t have the IT specialists or budgets of larger companies, so their information security is often more basic. Yet their customer data or access to their online banking systems are nonetheless lucrative targets for today’s highly motivated cybercriminals.
SMEs are likely to become even more attractive as targets as a spate of recent high-profile data breaches prompt bigger companies to redouble their security efforts. Thus, small companies must take firm steps to protect their businesses, especially with laws such as POPI compelling them to safeguard the processing, usage and handling of sensitive customer information.
A technical and financial challenge
For many small companies, this sounds daunting as they do not have the technical expertise or the budget to build an effective on-site security and backup solution. This is where cloud computing can be hugely valuable, due to its ability to offer any organisation top-of-the-line protection.
Credible cloud providers’ offers strong security measures to give firms peace of mind. The companies that provide cloud solutions have bullet-proof security in place because they serve thousands of clients who trust them to keep their data safe. Thus, they are able to invest in the sort of high-end information infrastructure and processes that no SME can afford.
Get up and running with data backups
Another key advantage of cloud services is that if a business does encounter data loss or breaches, it will be able to access backups stored in the cloud to immediately get up and running again, minimising any disruption to services and ensuring downtime doesn’t cost the company money.
Of course, it’s also important to follow common-sense precautions to protect your information. Use anti-malware software on your computers. Ensure that access to your devices and online services are protected by strong passwords.
Encrypt any sensitive data you must store on a device’s hard drive or flash memory. And educate your end-users about the importance following these simple policies as well as the dangers that phishing, malware, and other security threats pose to your business.
You wouldn’t leave your business premises unlocked overnight so that thieves can walk in and help themselves to your assets. Don’t leave a virtual door open for them, either. After all, your online banking logins, customer data, and good reputation are some of the most valuable things that your small business owns.
Protect them with care.
Welcome to world of 2099
The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.
Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.
This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.
Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.
As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.
“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”
The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.
“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”
Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.
- Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
Street art goes electric
Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.
The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.
The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.
D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.
D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.
“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”
As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.
Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”
Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”