Digital innovation, deployed correctly, can transform small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). But this transformation can bring risks. Businesses need to ensure their security layer remains robust, without slowing innovation.

Research by analysts IDC predicts that half of SMEs will be “remote” businesses by 2023, and 75% of startups will have a “digital first” strategy, adopting new technologies by 2024.[1]

But businesses need to recognize that the opportunities go hand in hand with significant security challenges.

These include handling sensitive data in a secure manner, ensuring business processes are hardened against cyber attacks, and that IT hardware is protected both in the office, and on the road. This is all the more important with the move towards flexible and remote working[2].

Unsurprisingly, firms expect to spend more on security.

Foundry’s State of the CIO research shows that cybersecurity is a priority for businesses with up to 1,000 employees.[3] Data shows 45% say improving security was a key reason for increasing their technology budget. Overall, increasing security was a priority for 53% of organisations.

Meanwhile, Foundry’s 2022 Security Priorities[4] study found that 24% of data security incidents were caused by unpatched software vulnerabilities.

Yet despite these concerns, it is crucial that security measures should not make it harder for employees to do their jobs.

SMBs, for their part, are also less likely to have dedicated information security experts: data and device security is typically the responsibility of the IT team, who are generalists rather than specialists.

IDC research states[5] that smaller and medium sized businesses suffer with weak IT investment strength and IT management personnel.

Security challenges

Much of the discussion around security threats to business focuses on malware and especially ransomware.

This is understandable, given the financial and reputational risks these attacks pose. According to a 2023 report[6], the average data breach cost for businesses with fewer than 500 employees is $3.31m.

But organisations also need to safeguard the technology they use regularly. This includes personal computing.

Good security for endpoint devices, including laptops, is a vital first line of defence against cyber attacks. Keeping operating systems and applications up to date is proven to reduce the risks of malware, including ransomware.

The US Federal Communications Commission, for example, puts ensuring operating systems and applications are up to date, and having an “action plan” for mobile devices, in its top five priorities for smaller businesses.[7] And the UK’s NCSC advises businesses to patch their devices, and to control access to USB and removable media.[8]

However, this is only possible if a business fully understands where its IT assets are, their capabilities, and how to manage them.

Smart steps to security

For any business, strong security and effective IT asset management are equally important.

Choosing the right IT hardware can close that gap. Business-grade laptops now come with a host of features that bolster security, and ease management. Some measures are below the surface, such as the Intel vPro® Platform and Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Others, such as fingerprint sensors, and even webcam privacy filters, are more obvious, but equally important.

But this should go hand in hand with tools to manage the laptop “fleet”.

The ASUS Control Center, for example, is a powerful tool that keeps track of devices, applying consistent policies for software patches and other vital updates.

This has the added benefit of freeing up valuable IT staff to deploy and deliver the core technologies that will help the business to grow.

Find out more about ASUS Business solutions.

[1] IDC, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Small and Medium-Sized Business 2022 Predictions, #US48299421, October 2021

[2] Home Office is an Advantage, But Security Risks Remain, IDC blog, November 16, 2022

[3] Foundry State of the CIO 2023.

[4] Foundry 2022 Security Priorities study

[5] IDC, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Small and Medium-Sized Business 2022 Predictions, #US48299421, October 2021

[6] Cost of a data breach report 2023

[7] Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

[8] Small Business Guide: Cyber Security