The rapid acceleration of digital transformation has had a profound impact on the contemporary business landscape. During the past three years alone, companies have adapted to remote working, unprecedented online consumer demand and a significant increase in cyber crime.
Digital transformation and cyber security are often perceived as daunting and complex topics, yet they are highly relevant – and for many organisations absolutely crucial when it comes to their future success and growth prospects.
To better understand how SMEs can overcome these challenges, we are leaning on the expertise of our portfolio, gaining key insights on robust IT infrastructure from Alex Breary, Head of Marketing at Custodian Data Centres and essential cyber security advice from Rob Shapland, Head of Cyber Innovation at Falanx Cyber.
Alex Breary, Custodian Data Centres: “IT Infrastructure must be future-proofed,
resilient and scalable”
In this evolving, digital-focused world, it is vital that businesses continue to adapt their strategies and infrastructure to meet the ever-changing digital demands. From an increase in remote and flexible working to heightened security risks, ensuring your business’ critical IT infrastructure is future-proofed, resilient and scalable, is vital… When looking at digital transformation in particular, the capacity of servers now versus just a few years ago, highlights the rapid nature of these changes.
A structured approach to change is not just a concern for large multinational enterprises, it also applies to smaller companies, as the digital environment continues to develop. Having a firm grasp on how your IT is set up, not only supports your employees and ensures internal operations run smoothly, it also benefits your customers by offering a more efficient and optimised experience.
Get expert advice to help you adapt
The introduction of cloud environments, hybrid options and hyper scale data centres can be confusing to navigate. But businesses that continue to offer the same service and solutions as they did five years ago are being left behind, which only enables their competitors to thrive. Prioritising innovation therefore creates massive benefits for both the organisations themselves and for their customers.
Firstly, you need to understand the set-up and infrastructure required to optimise your business for current and future operations. Working with partners that have expertise in this area will mitigate some of the challenges when starting your digital transformation journey.
At Custodian, our in-house technical and engineering personnel play a vital role in designing and structuring data centre and colocation services that are as flexible and agile as possible, enabling our clients to plan more securely for the future. We also consider it crucial that design and specification can be scalable, to meet the evolving needs of a business.
Future-proof your firm’s IT infrastructure
With greater demand placed on today’s supply chains, businesses that can plan for growth, or build new capacity are in a strong position, so taking the time to put IT at the forefront of strategy discussions is key. By pushing a digital-first approach, businesses can adjust to the fast-moving and rapidly-changing environment in which we operate.
When considering physical IT infrastructure for example, it is pivotal that the technology underpinning the data centre is as future-proofed as the hardware that is being deployed within it. To future-proof in the current climate, it is not enough to work to industry best practices – your strategic partners should be exceeding these perimeters and improving their technology all the time.
Rob Shapland, Falanx Cyber: “The cost of poor cyber security is steep and long-lasting”
How SMEs are targeted in cyber attacks
The digital world has created a huge increase in opportunities for cyber criminals to target businesses. The sudden shift to remote working, instigated by the pandemic, meant that businesses favoured ease and often neglected security when setting up employees to work from home. Usually, the only defence for access to company material is a username and password, which is not enough protection when you have employees logging into emails from all over the world.
A hacker’s main goal from a cyber attack on a small business is to deploy ransomware that encrypts data and demands payment for its release. Gaining access to this data is fairly easy and can be done in several ways.
The main method is to attempt a log in as if they were a legitimate employee. This requires the criminal to steal a username and password – they usually have a huge list of these readily available, which have been stolen from other hacked websites. From here it is simply a game of matching the employee to the stolen password on a company login page.
Alternatively, the hacker might try phishing attacks or exploiting out-of-date software that has security vulnerabilities. The cost of a cyber attack is not solely the ransom fee. There is also the greater cost of disruption to day-to-day operations, which can last for weeks or sometimes months. In cases where data is threatened to be made public, you are then also required to disclose this to your clients, which has a huge impact on your reputation. The ultimate cost is steep and long-lasting.
Cyber defence priorities for SMEs
Understanding the basics of cyber security and the risks involved when things go wrong, is the most important step in protecting your business. Any firm’s top priority should be to have a system capable of detecting and blocking a cyber attack as it occurs. This protects the company even if an employee falls victim to a phishing attack. The best way to do this is through Managed Detection and Response (MDR), which is a bit like a little army inside your computer network, looking for anyone that isn’t supposed to be there.
Falanx Cyber has an MDR service called Triarii, which combines artificial intelligence with human analysts and is designed to alert you to anything strange happening on your network while blocking the attack. Traditional anti-virus software is no longer sufficient in dissolving modern cyberattacks, whereas MDR services usually include next-generation anti-virus software as part of the package that is capable of protecting against the more advanced attacks.
SMEs should also ensure that all websites and applications their employees use are protected by multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA requires a code that is sent to a separate device, or a rotating code from an authenticator app, alongside an employee’s password to gain access to company data. This provides an excellent level of protection as it stops cyber criminals from logging in, even if they have a legitimate password.
Employees should also be trained in the basic techniques cyber criminals might use to launch an attack. Cyber security doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Once the basics are in place, the majority of criminals will move on to an easier target, but getting advice from experts is a great first step towards getting things right.
Find out more about Custodian here
Find out more about Falanx here