2020 was the most challenging year for our generation. The issues we faced were unique and tested us personally and professionally. While 2021 has the potential to finally bring some respite it will also mean that the challenges we face as businesses are more recognisable.
Our use of technology continues to evolve and businesses are as reliant on technology as ever before. With that comes an increase in performance and productivity but it also brings its own set of challenges.
In this article, we are going to highlight 5 technology challenges your business faces in 2021.
Keeping up with cybersecurity
Security is going to be a massive challenge for every business in 2021.
47 per cent of small businesses had at least one cyberattack in 2020 and that number is expected to grow this year.
Small businesses are often an easy target because they don't have the resources or expertise to defend themselves correctly.
What are the threats your business faces?
Phishing emails are the most common form of attack a business will face. Fraudulent emails and emails impersonating members of the business or suppliers are easy to make and still work at a surprisingly high rate.
So how can a business defend itself against the increased number of cyber attacks we now face?
Cybersecurity tips your business can follow
- Use strong passwords
Having a clear password policy for your business will make it harder for cybercriminals to access your accounts and your network.
You can find out how to set strong passwords here.
- Use multi-factor authentication
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) acts as a fail-safe for passwords. When you login in MFA prompts you to take another action, the most common is input a code that is sent to your mobile.
- Educate your staff
88% of UK data breaches are caused by human error. That's just another example of how shocking some of the cybersecurity stats have become. Because phishing emails are being sent to your staff every day it's important to educate your staff on how to deal with a phishing email.
- Regularly install updates
Updates contain important fixes that address known weaknesses in software and apps. These weaknesses are also called vulnerabilities.
If your software and apps are not up to date, you run the risk of allowing cybercriminals to find and use these vulnerabilities for their malicious intents.
Cybercriminals could infect your devices with malware, steal your data and even take control of your devices.
Data privacy and compliance
Data breaches exposed 36 billion records in the first half of 2020. 86 per cent of those breaches were financially motivated. Cybercrime is a big business but they aren't just attacking big businesses.
Many small businesses make themselves easy wins for cybercriminals, a quick and easy way to make a few £1,000's, by not protecting their data well enough.
The cost of a data breach
Data breaches are becoming more expensive. In 2020 the average cost of a data breach was £2.79 million. Now that number is so high because of large companies having massive data breaches, but how much can your business afford to lose?
Data breaches will cost your business in other ways as well. Customers are caring about their data more than ever. Another worrying cybersecurity stat is that 74 per cent of customers would take their business elsewhere shows how important data protection has become.
GDPR and compliance
If you're not doing enough to protect your data then you are breaching GDPR and most likely any specific regulations to your industry. A large part of GDPR is about protecting data and if you are not doing Cybersecurity right then you are not protecting that data.
How to protect your data
Following the security tips, we covered earlier will help you protect your data but there is still more than you can do. Cyber Essentials is a Government-backed scheme that sets a minimum standard of cybersecurity your business should have in place.
Find out more about Cyber Essentials and how it can help protect your business here.
Continuing to work remotely
At the start of 2020, only 5 per cent of the UK workforce was working remotely. At the peak of the initial lockdown, that number almost hit 50 per cent.
Coupled with the rushed nature of the first lockdown many businesses scrambled to put in place a remote working structure. After that initial move to remote working did your business review your remote working structure? Did you consider all the security implications that come with remote working?
The biggest threat you face is that cybercriminals are always working. Even the best cybersecurity is often reactive. Reacting to the vulnerabilities the criminals discover and then exploit. So what might have been okay last spring could well be out of date now.
Here are some of the common security issues related to working from home:
- Personal devices accessing your network
- Unsecure connections to your network
- Data being stored insecurely – GDPR!
- Not regularly installing updates
Your employee's habits will have changed as well. 47 per cent of employees cited distraction as the reason for falling for a phishing scam while working from home. In total remote workers have caused a security breach in 20 per cent of organisations.
We would recommend having your remote working setup reviewed by an IT security specialist. Infotech Solutions offer a free IT audit where we can review your whole IT infrastructure, as well as your remote working set up. For more information on the IT audit click here.
Knowing what good IT looks like
The first step you should take is to understand your own cybersecurity. A lot of businesses are outsourcing their IT security and it is a good idea to put something so important in the hands of an expert.
But it’s also important not to think that’s your involvement finished. When you use an accountant you don’t stop checking your bank balance.
You must stay aware of cybersecurity issues, watching webinars like this are great, don’t be afraid to ask questions or challenge your IT security suppliers. At the end of the day, you are ultimately responsible.
Are you accepting IT issues?
Many businesses will often accept slow computers, intermittent downtime and internet problems because they know no better. That's the way it's always been.
IT isn’t supposed to come with extra headaches, it’s supposed to make things easier.
Not all issues are visible until they go bang
Even if everything seems to be running okay that might not be the case.
The saying there is no smoke without fire doesn’t work in technology. You could have a raging forest fire going on and not see any sign of it.
And even if it seems everything is working okay, how well does that stack up against best practices? For most business owners that can be difficult to know because they don't have enough experience with IT.
Our free IT audit can act as a health check for your technology. We will find any major issues you might be having as well as flagging potential issues that might occur in time. Click here for more information on our free IT audit.
Knowing when to upgrade your technology
Technology moves at a frightening pace. Last year's state of the art smartphones are now already out of date.
Best practices in the tech industry change so often, keeping up to date is a challenge for every business. Knowing when to upgrade can be a difficult decision to make.
You’ll need to balance that cost vs gain out ourselves.
When you have no choice but to upgrade
There are times when you will have no choice but to upgrade.
Products reach end of life, which means the manufacturer will stop updating them. So no more security updates, which is reason enough to update.
Here are some key products that are reaching end of life in the next few years:
- Windows Server 2012 - January 10th 2023
- Windows 8 / 8.1 - January 10th 2023
- Office 2013 - April 11th 2023
- In 2025, all analogue phone lines in the UK will be turned off
While it might seem you have plenty of time to upgrade bear in mind there will be a rush to upgrade as the end of life dates approach. This may mean you are left waiting for your upgrade after the end of life date has passed.
These challenges might seem daunting but with the right help, they don't need to be. Technology should always be an asset to your business and never a hindrance.