What Will 2012 Have in Store for South African SMEs?

What Will 2012 Have in Store for South African SMEs?


For many, 2011 will be recalled as the year of the data breach as companies of all sizes made headlines for losing valuable data. Small businesses were no exception as cybercriminals found SMEs their new favourite target. Looking ahead to 2012, the threat landscape won’t be getting any better but Symantec foresees 2012 as a year of action for SMEs where they’ll start taking tangible steps to protect their businesses from the threats they face.

SMEs will head for the cloud in 2012

In Symantec’s State of Cloud survey, security was recognised as the top concern and the top goal for organisations of all sizes considering the cloud. Cloud security services such as email security and web filtering technology allows SMBs to get enterprise-class security as a service that is always up-to-date on the latest threats.

27% of South African small businesses identified mobility (or the ability to work from anywhere) as the key factor of how cloud computing can positively impact their business, that’s according to the 2011 Small Business Survey carried out by the South Africa Small Business Chamber. The survey further found that the most sought after applications or solutions from the cloud would be e-mail (68 %), storage (48 %), document collaboration (44 %) and CRM (33 %).

That’s why in 2012 Symantec expects SMEs will harness the power of cloud solutions for security.

SME’s are getting wise to mobile threats 2012

According to Gartner, sales of smartphones will exceed 461 million by the end of the year, surpassing PC shipments in the process. As a result, this explosion has captured the attention of cybercriminals and we’ve seen significant growth in the amount of mobile malware – from malware simply seeking to embarrass victims to malware focused on information theft. More and more personal and corporate devices are becoming one in the SMB workplace.

This consumerisation of IT creates significant efficiency for employees, but also creates security and management challenges for small businesses and their customers. Not all SME’s have dedicated IT staff to manage these rogue mobile devices, which puts the customer and business information that resides on these mobile devices open to threats, theft or loss.

SME’s need to address the challenges associated with mobility by adopting new models, such as security in the cloud, and implement more granular web security policies for their employees. Educating the end user is also a very important step to ensuring data remains safe and secure.

SMEs become social media savvy and secure

There’s been a significant shift in social media being used solely for personal reasons, to becoming a savvy tool that small businesses use to promote their business or services, to connect with customers or just to keep up with the times. Despite the obvious upsides of being social media savvy, these networks often give users an implied sense of security, making them more inclined to share personal and even business information; click on links or fall for other cleverly orchestrated scams.

Small businesses need to understand how to protect and manage these non-standard applications, since business information that is communicated in these outlets will still need to be secure. Education for end-users i.e. employees is very important. It is important to understand the threats and conduct social networking with care and caution.

2012 the year for disaster preparedness plans

Symantec’s 2011 Disaster Preparedness Survey showed that at a global level SMEs do not understand the importance of disaster preparedness. Half of SMEs do not have a disaster recovery plan in place, and 41 % said that it never occurred to them to put together a plan while 40 % stated that disaster preparedness is not a priority for them. The data also reveals that disasters can have a significant financial impact on SMEs. The median cost of downtime for an SME is $12 500 per day.

Consider the important data that exists in your small business: financial records, customer databases, customer financial data, banking records. Now simply consider the amount of power outages that have been faced in South Africa in the past year, whether planned or unplanned. Apart from the inevitable downtime, consider the data that could potentially be lost as a result if data is not backed up and secured. According to the NSBC 2011 Small Business Survey, a shocking 14 % of SMEs in South Africa said they never backup their data.

Most SMEs cannot afford to not have a disaster preparedness plan in place. When the unexpected strikes, SMEs need to know their critical information is recoverable. Their business could depend on it. 2012 is the time for preparedness!

David Ribeiro
David Ribeiro is a Partner Account Manager at Symantec South Africa. He is responsible for managing the relationship between Symantec South Africa and the managed reseller Channels. During the past years with Symantec, David has been recognized for his dedication and achievements both locally and on a global level. In addition to receiving the Small Business Team of the Year awards for EMEA in 2008, he was also named the Small Business Salesperson of EMEA for FY10.
  • Cybercrime remains under-reported and requires more awareness and active participation by ICT professionals and not just organisations. Visit Cybercrime.org.za for relevant and trusted local and international resources aimed at educating individuals at all levels.