Connect with us

Company Posts

Your Small Business Is Not Too Small For A Cyberattack

Ashley Madison. British Airways. eBay. Sony. Hilton Hotels. LinkedIn. Twitter. Gmail. South African Police Service. These are a very few of the big-name, public cyberattacks that have occurred in the last five years. Vast numbers are unreported, the number of incidences is increasing and, most importantly, it is not just big brands that are targets.

Tony Koutakis

Published

on

cyberattack-south-africa

One of the biggest risks a small business owner can take is underestimating the threat of cyberattack.

I know you probably don’t believe me, because your emerging company is not really a target compared to the brands listed above, right? Wrong.

Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report notes that in 2011, small businesses were the target of 18% of cyberattacks. In 2014, that number was 34%. In 2015, small businesses were the target of 43% of attacks.

You are not too small to be a target. In fact, you’re a target because you’re small. SMEs exist in the same threat landscape as larger companies, but with fewer resources and less expertise. Attacks on small businesses are more costly in terms of the data stolen, and more destructive in terms of damaged reputation and lost trust.

Make no mistake, cybercrime is big business and targeting small and midsize businesses makes economic sense. Cyber-criminals want the biggest bang for their buck, which often means targeting the SME segment.

Related: 10 Steps that Could Save your Business from a Cyberattack

Still don’t believe me? Consider the five primary reasons your business is just the right size for a cyberattack:

1Your data is valuable

valuable-company-data-and-information

What of the following information is on your computer right now – intellectual property (like new business proposals, product pipelines and strategy planning), supplier information, employee details, customer details, accounts information? And are you in contact with bigger companies, like partners or suppliers or clients?

It is a myth that you and your company holds no information worth stealing. You have valuable data in your possession, and you’re connected to other people with valuable data in theirs.

2You are low risk and high return

Your small business is a high return target because of the reasons above. You’re a low risk target because it’s unlikely that you have the software or support required to detect and counter advanced malware that may lurk in your systems for months before many security tools will flag it.

Even if you did successfully defend yourself against an attack, what then? Cyber-criminals are difficult to identify, they can operate from literally anywhere and they are seldom successfully prosecuted. 

3You’re an easy target

It’s unlikely that your company employs a specialist Head of IT, let alone a Chief Information Officer or Chief Information Security Officer. These are the dedicated professionals employed by enterprises specifically to ensure the safety of company data and networks.

It is rare that an SME can afford multi-layered security like that deployed by large companies, and it is common that security policies and procedures are lacking.

Cyber-attacks follow the path of least resistance and your business is probably on that path.

Related: Free E-Book On How To Spot A (Cyber) Whaling Attack

4Your guard is down

company-security-protection

Unfortunately, there is not much local research on small businesses and cybercrime in South Africa but it is quite likely that we mirror the trends identified in international research. As I indicated earlier, the threat to small businesses is increasing but concern is not.

Owners of emerging businesses are falsely confident that cybercrime is not something they need to worry about. Consider some results of this survey conducted by KPMG in December 2015 – only 23% of small businesses surveyed in the UK cited cyber security as a top concern.

Half of the small businesses surveyed thought it was ‘unlikely or very unlikely’ that they’d be a target for an attack. Ironically, 60% of those small businesses had experienced a breach.

5Your (free) tools won’t save you

Free antivirus software and basic password controls are better than no security at all but today, commercial-grade software, a secured network and firewalls are minimum requirements.

This is not licence to scrap security measures – if you’re not scrimping on security and properly educating your staff, then you are likely defended against most known attacks.

Consider security measures like secure business email with content filtering, antivirus software that includes social media scanners and anti-phishing, and digital certificates to protect customer login and credit card details.

The reality is that the best defences deployed by most SMEs will not withstand a targeted, dynamic cyberattack. Assume your company is a target – because it really is – and get assistance to identify your most valuable data and how it could be vulnerable. Those are the first steps of defence against well-funded, highly mobilised cyber-criminals.

Tony Koutakis is the Executive Head of Ignite – an internet and communication technology services provider specifically focused on South African SMEs. He is convinced that with the correct business and technical support to connect, run and grow their businesses, South African SMEs have the potential to transform the economy. Ignite offers fast, easy, and affordable access to services and digital tools in four areas essential for SME growth - Communication, Connectivity, Cloud and Business Applications.

Advertisement
Comments

Company Posts

SAB Transforms Supply Chains

Supplier Development Programmes grow black-owned suppliers and create jobs.

South African Breweries (SAB)

Published

on

south-african-breweries

The South African Breweries (SAB) has invested more than R200 million into creating an inclusive supply chain that incorporates black-owned and black women-owned SMEs through its supplier development programmes, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive. In addition, more than 100 jobs have been created through these efforts.

SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive aim to create a diversified and inclusive supply chain by supporting the growth of black-owned suppliers through business development support and funding. The programmes are two of four entrepreneurship development programmes run by SAB to help create 10 000 jobs in South Africa by 2022 — SAB KickStart, SAB Foundation, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive.

SAB’s agriculture programmes also contribute towards the aim to create jobs by growing emerging farmers.     

Related: SAB-Commissioned Research Shows SA Poised To Reap Entrepreneurship Rewards

“From rural entrepreneurs to big business, SAB has laid the foundation to support entrepreneurs and to contribute towards government’s efforts to grow the economy and reduce unemployment in the country,” says Ricardo Tadeu, Zone President, SAB and AB InBev Africa.

“We recognise that one of the major hurdles for SMEs in South Africa is the ability to gain entry into big business and form part of their supply chains. This requires a symbiotic relationship with big business working alongside smaller suppliers.”

SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive cohesively solve the challenges of creating a healthy pipeline of suppliers that represent the demographics of the country. SAB Accelerator has piloted ten businesses that have created 29 permanent and 79 part-time jobs in a period of just six months, and is currently incubating 24 businesses as part of the official post-pilot intake. SAB Thrive has invested R100 million in seven businesses, which have created 46 new jobs. In addition, the programme has contributed R140 million in new B-BBEE preferential spend.

The SAB Accelerator is an in-house programme dedicated to developing black-owned and black women-owned suppliers. Geared towards fast-tracking participants’ growth, the programme employs ten highly experienced business coaches and ten engineers, offering both tailored business and deep technical coaching to the participants.

It has a three-phased approach consisting of:

  1. Diagnostic: Screening the business’s current situation and systematically identifying gaps and opportunities for growth.
  2. Catalyst: Proposing an intensive three-month coaching intervention addressing key business functional and technical areas of improvement or growth.
  3. Amplify: Providing additional business development to support graduates of the Catalyst Programme.

The SAB Accelerator strongly focuses on enhancing market visibility and access of its participants.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Existing black-owned or black woman-owned suppliers currently servicing SAB’s supply chain at the time of application.
  • Existing black-owned or black women-owned businesses that have potential to join the SAB supply chain based on their product or service.

The SAB Thrive fund is an enterprise and supplier development (E&SD) fund set up to transform the company’s supplier base. The fund was established in partnership with the Awethu Project, a black private equity fund manager and SME investment company. The aim is to invest in and transform SAB suppliers to represent our country’s demographics. SAB Thrive investees benefit from 100% black equity capital and business support.

Related: 6 SAB Entreprenurship Programmes That Provide Business Management And Support

The fund invests growth equity capital into SAB’s existing high-growth black-owned suppliers, furthering their profitable expansion into the SAB supply chain without diluting the black-ownership of these businesses.

Existing white-owned suppliers are provided equity capital to support the enhancement of their black ownership, while facilitating the introduction of black entrepreneurs to their business. The intention is to apprentice the individual to take over the business in the near future.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Black-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to grow their business through access to black-owned growth equity capital.
  • Existing white-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to transform their B-BBEE ownership.

Continue Reading

Company Posts

3 Ways To Find Ideas For A New Business

Every business starts with an idea, a vision for a product or service that the business then brings to life.

Harald Merckel

Published

on

business-idea

Every business starts with an idea, a vision for a product or service that the business then brings to life. Sometimes, the greatest ideas and the most successful businesses can spring from some unlikely places. So if you’re hunting for some fresh ideas for starting a new business, try these tricks to get the wheels turning.

1. Ask People What They Need

A good product or service will fill a gap or meet a need that is not being met yet. So if you need a fresh idea, start by asking people what they need. Of course, you don’t just want to stop random people at the shopping mall and ask them what kinds of products they’d like to see. You need something a bit more targeted than that.

Related: 10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!

So start by picking a niche group of consumers that you would like to reach. For example, you might decide you want to create a product or service to help make teachers’ jobs easier. So reach out to some teachers and ask them what kinds of problems the encounter most, and what kinds of things would help them. Odds are, they’re going to have a lot of answers.

Entrepreneur Sam Ovens started his first business out of his parents’ garage, and he did it by solving a problem for a very specific group — property managers. He reached out to this niche of consumers and learned that they spent a lot of time juggling notes and photos for the various properties they managed. So, Sam created an app that made it easy for property managers to take photos of properties, add notes, and send the documents out to their clients. The app, SnapInspect, was hugely successful and launched Sam into a multi-million dollar business career.

2. Find Something That Bothers You

If you don’t have someone else to ask, ask yourself what some of your pet peeves are. What’s something that you put up with, just because it seems to be the norm, but that you secretly wish you could fix? Find what that one thing is, and fix it. Odds are, there are other people who have the same problem, and they’ll pay you to fix it for them too.

Related: The 10 Best New-Age Business Ideas You Haven’t Heard About Yet

For example, one young college grad was irritated by something very simple; he didn’t feel like there was a quality no-show sock for men. As a young professional himself, he wanted something that he could wear with his slacks and dress shoes, but it seemed that the only option for professional socks were long. So he started a Kickstarter campaign, and he raised $50,000 to start producing quality no-show socks.

This simple desire to fix his own pet peeve led Kory Stevens to found Taft Clothing. The line now produces high-fashion men’s shoes, and the business now boasts millions of dollars in sales. Plus, Kory has those no-show business socks he wanted for himself.

3. Make a Cheaper Product

Certain products and services simply have a high price tag. But if you can find a way to take an existing product or service and provide it for a steep discount, you have a recipe for a successful business. Consumers always want to save money, and if you give them the chance to save money on a product they already use, they’ll take it.

Related: 11 Uniquely South African Business Ideas

One example of this is an eyeglasses company called Warby Parker, which was launched in 2010 by four friends who attended the same business school. They looked around and noticed that most prescription glasses were selling for $300 or more. So they decided to offer the same kind of product for just $95. Since the company’s launch, Warby Parker has grown to 100 employees and is still expanding.

The opportunities for new business ideas are all around you. If you know where to look, you could end up with the next big thing in the business world.

Continue Reading

Cash Flow

Entrepreneurial Balancing Acts with Debt

Young South African entrepreneurs face many challenges when it comes to debt-related financing. Small and medium enterprise (SME) owners typically require extensive debt financing from bank and non-bank lenders.

Harald Merckel

Published

on

debt-management

Young South African entrepreneurs face many challenges when it comes to debt-related financing. Small and medium enterprise (SME) owners typically require extensive debt financing from bank and non-bank lenders. Unfortunately, many South African entrepreneurs are limited in their ability to access capital markets. Among others, the major challenges facing entrepreneurs include lack of credit history, no collateral, shaky credentials, and unformulated business plans.

Regardless, SA entrepreneurs are forging ahead and using multiple resources at their disposal such as payday loan providers, non-bank lenders, family and friends, crowdfunding and other economic empowerment initiatives to raise the necessary seed capital for investment purposes. Given the staggering unemployment rate in the country (+25%), the only way out for many people appears to be entrepreneurship. The 2008 global financial crisis threw the economy for a loop, and now the hopes and dreams of many South Africans hang in the balance.

Related: Every Tough Choice Has Management Debt – Are You Accounting For Yours?

ISM Study Sheds Light on SA Entrepreneurial Pros and Cons

An intensive study conducted by the University of Cape Town’s Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing (ISM) found that the country is experiencing ‘a crisis of aspiration’. Simply put, many South Africans are struggling to attain their career objectives in an economy that has been ravaged by corruption, mismanagement, and scandal. Despite tough economic times, South African entrepreneurs are determined to try their luck. Pressing challenges in the form of rising unemployment, and an economy mired in failure are challenging entrepreneurs to be more inventive than ever before. The most volatile component of the economic spectrum in South Africa is the middle class.

Many South African families have lived the high life, or ascended the rungs and then been knocked down a peg. This instability is creating added volatility in a country where high crime, mismanagement and political rancour pepper the scene. For many entrepreneurs, any access to credit is a godsend. Banks and non-bank providers offering personal loans, business loans, or credit card funds invariably expose themselves to debt default. For entrepreneurs, it’s important to know where to draw the line. Access to lines of credit in a crippled economy is significantly more valuable than the equivalent access in a developed economy.

How to Know when you are Overstretched as an Entrepreneur

Debt is considered a prerequisite for investment purposes. Most South Africans simply don’t have the necessary capital to start up a high-tech venture, fund a new business, or conduct marketing and advertising activity. As such, lines of credit are increasingly being used to propel business activity among SMEs – both in the formal and the informal sector. However, once debt reaches untenable levels, the tough questions need to be asked. For example, if multiple loans and multiple payments are required monthly, revenue streams need to be evaluated against expenses to gauge whether this is a feasible status quo.

Related: How To Handle Your Post-Holiday Debt

Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to manage multiple loans simultaneously, although it is necessary to acquire the capital from multiple sources. One of the ways to deal with these types of exigencies is a single loan from a low-cost lender in the form of debt consolidation loans. Simply put, these loans are provided by bank or non-bank lenders at lower interest rates than the prevailing interest rate on other lines of credit. By taking out a debt consolidation loan, the entrepreneur has more disposable income over time by not paying the higher interest on credit card debt.

Escape Debt Before Debt Consumes You

There are several other ways to know when your personal financial situation has reached critical mass. For starters, the nature of your business may require you to continue dipping into lines of credit to maintain business operations. If you don’t have the requisite discipline to stop indebting yourself, you may not be able to get out of debt. Debt consolidation is only effective insofar as you have the necessary discipline to put an end to debt financing of all business-related activity.

Credit should be used sparingly, and profits should be generated to allow your business to prosper. In a tight economic climate, costs are the bugbear that need to be attacked. Lavish trappings are unnecessary for business functionality – modest budgets, and high-quality goods and services are far more effective than window dressing at a premium.

Continue Reading

Trending

FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​