Cybersecurity for your SMME

Issue 6 2022 Cyber Security

In today’s interconnected world, effective cybersecurity is as important to the success of any business as capital funding, skills mix, innovation and good management. This is especially true since the widespread move to remote and hybrid working over the past two years, which has made both individuals and organisations more vulnerable to cyberattacks. And not only are users on open networks more vulnerable to these attacks, cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated every day.

Large companies have the benefit of firewalls, dedicated IT departments and advanced security protocols, but even they are vulnerable to cybercrime, so SMMEs have to be alert to the threat it poses to both business information and continuity. Yet many don’t know where to start when it comes to preventing cyber intrusions, data theft and malicious attacks.

Forewarned is forearmed

The first line of defence against cybercrime is awareness and vigilance. In 2021 alone, there were 230 million cyber threat detections in South Africa, with phishing attempts being the most common. Around 96% of businesses and organisations in the country were targeted by this form of attack during the course of the year, with the number targeted by data and business email attacks not far behind.

And these are no longer simple end-point attacks. Criminal syndicates have developed complex, multi-stage operations that are designed to compromise computer networks through their most vulnerable points, usually their people. All it takes is a careless click on a suspicious link in an email and the damage is done. This is how most cybercriminals gain access to sensitive information and bank accounts, or deliver malicious software like ransomware.

Ransomware, which is designed to block access to a computer system until a ransom is paid, has become a widespread threat, with 75% of known ransomware having been used to initiate attacks on three out of four organisations worldwide.

What’s the solution?

In SMMEs, where entrepreneurs and their staff often perform multiple functions, protecting individual and networked computers from attack can seem like an overwhelming task. There are, of course, some important steps that everyone who uses a computer should take.

For a start, it’s important not to use the same password on multiple platforms as this makes it more difficult for hackers who’ve discovered a password to gain access to all of your online accounts. You should also be vigilant of suspicious links in an unexpected email, even one that looks as if it could come from a known service provider. Cybercriminals mirror the mails sent out by trusted organisations, hoping to catch users unawares. In fact, it’s a good discipline never to click on a hyperlink in an email. Make it a practice to copy hyperlinks and open them separately in your browser instead. And always remember the golden rule: think before you click.

The importance of training

Ideally, all members of staff who make use of computers, whether standalone or networked, should attend a cybersecurity training course conducted by an established and reputable provider so that they can learn to understand cybercriminals and the way they operate. As much as individuals and businesses benefit from new technologies, so do hackers. Many make use of AI tools such as machine learning to mine for data that may make computers or networks vulnerable – and many even use bots to maximise the reach of their phishing attacks.

Cybersecurity skills are as important to a business as functional, financial and managerial skills – and training helps entrepreneurs and their staff to understand more than just the basics. Formal training will, for example, help them to recognise and strengthen vulnerable points in the business’s IT and data systems. They’ll also learn more about how AI works, about the metaverse and blockchain technology, and about how using these technologies can create system vulnerabilities. Most importantly, they’ll learn all about ways to protect the business’s technology and data systems.

The bottom line is that data is one of the most valuable assets in any business today and, with so much sensitive information now online, nothing can be left to chance.

Fourth Industrial Revolution Incubator is an enabling technology platform for SMMEs. Find out more at

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Insights from the 2023 Cloud Security Report
News Cyber Security
Increased costs, compliance requirements, hybrid and multi-cloud complexities, reduced visibility, and a lack of skilled practitioners cause organisations to slow or adjust their cloud adoption strategies.

New algorithm for OT cybersecurity risk management
Industrial (Industry) Cyber Security News Commercial (Industry)
OTORIO’s new risk management model and attack graph analysis algorithm technology, calculates OT cybersecurity threats and provides risk mitigation actions, prioritised according to actual exposure and potential impact on operations.

Veeam finds 93% of cyberattacks target backup storage
Cyber Security
Veeam unveils the results of its 2023 Ransomware Trends Report, showing cyber insurance is becoming too expensive and 21% of organisations are unable to recover their data after paying the ransom.

Cybersecurity providers must first protect themselves
Cyber Security
In a joint advisory released by cybersecurity agencies across the United States, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, managed security service providers (MSSPs) have been warned of a sharp increase in cyberattacks targeting their systems.

Cyber attackers used over 500 tools and tactics in 2022
Cyber Security News
The most common root causes of attacks were unpatched vulnerabilities and compromised credentials, while ransomware continues to be the most common ‘end game’ and attacker dwell time is shrinking – for better or worse.

Addressing the SCADA in the room
Industrial (Industry) Cyber Security
Few other sectors command the breadth of purpose-built and custom devices necessary to function, as the industrial and manufacturing industries. These unique devices create an uncommon risk that must be assessed and understood to fully protect against incoming attacks.

Recession or stress?
Cyber Security News
The economic landscape has seen many technology companies lay off vast numbers of employees, but for cybersecurity, the picture looks very different – a dynamic mixture of excitement, challenges and toxicity.

Vulnerabilities in industrial cellular routers’ cloud management platforms
Industrial (Industry) Cyber Security Security Services & Risk Management
Research from OTORIO, a provider of operational technology cyber and digital risk management solutions, unveils cyber risks in M2M protocols and asset registration that expose hundreds of thousands of devices and OT networks to attack

NEC XON appoints Armand Kruger as Head of Cybersecurity
News Cyber Security
NEC XON has announced the appointment of Armand Kruger as the Head of Cybersecurity. Kruger will oversee all cybersecurity offerings including cybersecurity strategy, programmes, and executive advisory.

Caesar Tonkin new head of cybersecurity business, Armata
News Cyber Security
Vivica Holdings has announced the appointment of cybersecurity expert Caesar Tonkin to head up its cybersecurity business Armata, which provides technology solutions and niche expertise needed to help businesses better protect themselves.