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How to close the security gap for small and medium size enterprises

Ask an expert; #KingstonCognate introduces Prof. Sally Eaves

Sally EavesProf. Sally Eaves is Chair of Cyber Trust and Senior Policy Advisor for the Global Foundation of Cyber Studies and Research. Described as the ‘torchbearer for ethical tech’ she is the inaugural recipient of the Frontier Technology and Social Impact Award, presented at the United Nations. A Chief Technology Officer by background, and now Professor in Advanced Technologies and a Global Strategic Advisor across Emergent Technologies, Sally is an award winning International Author, MC, Keynote Speaker and Thought Leader on Digital Transformation (AI, 5G, Cloud, Blockchain, Cyber Security, Governance, IoT, Data Science) alongside Culture, Skills, DEI, Sustainability and Social Impact.

The SME cyber threat landscape

Small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in both national economies and international economic stability and growth. Approximately 400 million SME’s provide the backbone for our global economy and are the leading source of work and job creation, accounting for over 95% of all business entities, and 60% to 70% of employment.

It is therefore imperative to both economy and security that SMEs can embrace all the opportunities afforded by today’s omnichannel digital world, while maintaining strong cyber security too.

And this comes at a time of significant change. Many SME’s have needed to adopt new digital strategies and technologies at speed in order to maintain, pivot or diversify their business activities and models all whilst navigating a global pandemic and the rise of remote/hybrid working. This has also given rise to additional cyber risks.

A sobering thought, given cyber attacks have been occurring every 39 seconds and, on average, 2,244 times a day (Varoni 2020) and that the vulnerability of SME’s from cyber breaches is growing annually at greater than 400%. Conversely, while their guard can be reduced with fewer resources and financial reserves to manage them effectively. This piece outlines the modern threat landscape for SME’s, why it matters so much, and the key challenges being faced, to increase the awareness that is so vital to change and foster future readiness to the escalating cyber security threat.

‘The time is now to decouple SME investment, education, research and broadened awareness of heightened risk, from the false perception that SME’s have less data value to offer cyber criminals and hackers – and the global economy at large!’ Prof. Sally Eaves

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