What are other small and mid-sized businesses planning for 2024?
2024 is off and running. Many businesses have done their planning and budgeting to set their course to success in the coming year. Here are five technology and security trends small and medium businesses are preparing to leverage this year:
1. Information Security Fundamentals
I am seeing more SMBs finally carving information security into their budget. We resisted, but the reality is that our businesses face new threats, higher risks, and we must invest in information security.
The good news is that it doesn’t need to be horribly expensive. It all starts with getting back to some basic fundamentals and perhaps a couple modern tools.
To begin on the right track, there are a few important steps you should take.
First, make Multi-Factor Authentication a requirement. This will enhance the security of your system.
Additionally, it is crucial to manage administrative privileges correctly. This will help prevent unauthorized access and potential breaches.
Lastly, consider building an asset management system. This will assist in keeping track of your resources and ensuring their proper utilization.
Of course, there are many more fundamentals for you to crystalize in your business. These are just a few I’ve seen companies prioritize this year.
Now I know that compliance is not the same as information security. It’s someone telling you to do something. It’s checking boxes. And it’s the number one driver of information security investments.
I think it’s important for you to go beyond just following the rules and focus on real information security. However, this year many businesses will rush to put in place solutions just to meet the requirements they were given. The Department of Defense has released their proposed final rule for CMMC. This means that compliance, including other types, will become a higher priority for many companies.
I believe there will be an increase in Third-Party Risk Assessments. As a result, various individuals, such as your clients, vendors, or even your grandma, may request you to complete an assessment. They want to know about your information security hygiene and the risk you pose to them.
Prepare for these things coming and find a way to benefit your business from them. I suggest creating your own program to assess risks from third-party sources, but that’s not covered in this article.
3. Cyber Liability Insurance
Cyber insurance is a way to transfer the risk of your business experiencing a cyber incident. I am seeing more businesses that already have cyber insurance in place. They might not completely understand it, but they feel it is needed and have invested in it.
The application process for cyber liability insurance also introduces companies to more boxes to check. So many that we curated an information security service bundle that includes services and tools that we have seen requested the most in the many applications we have reviewed for SMBs. I wouldn’t suggest simply implementing it to just to check a box, but it is good.
When we deploy this bundle, our goal is to educate you on these tools and help you build security into the culture of your organization. This empowers you to get much more value from them than merely checking a box.
Either way, it’s important to understand your cyber liability insurance policy. Make sure you have an agent that can help keep you educated and understand your options and best practices. Did you know that you can proactively discuss the incident response procedures with the cyber liability team and prepare yourself for what the steps are in the event of an incident?
Ask. Plan ahead. You’ll thank yourself later.
4. Risk Management
Information security risk is no different than any other business risk. And many SMBs are starting to understand that. This means having an information security presence at the executive level. It means boards and executives taking ownership of the information security risk decisions and not sweeping it under the rug of the IT Department.
We are now seeing executives take the lead in weaving information security into the fabric of their organization. But in order to manage risk, you have to assess it. This means scheduling ongoing information security risk assessments, categorizing the business risks, and making a risk decision for each one. Risk decisions include Transfer, Avoid, Mitigate, and Accept. Yes, accept. It is totally possible to assess a risk and make a conscious decision to accept it.
There may be many reasons why one would do this, but the point is you can’t ignore it and plead ignorance. That doesn’t work anymore. You need to own it. And we are seeing more businesses embrace this reality and taking charge of their information security future.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI, Machine Learning, ChatGPT… Are these not the buzziest word today? Many businesses are asking themselves how they can leverage all the different AI integrations and applications. Many SMBs are feeling like they need to jump on it quick before they fall behind. This will lead to early adoption in all the marketing mumbo jumbo claiming to be powered by AI.
There are great innovations with AI, and I certainly want you begin to leverage all the value that these can offer your business. However, be cautious and understand the risks that come with this technology. Understand that the marketing department is jumping all over this trend and will buzz these terms in your ear like a mosquito at the 4th of July BBQ. Proceed with ambitious skepticism and make great decisions to get the most out of these innovations and investments.
2024 will be an exciting year. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the plans and audacious goals that businesses will be chasing this year. We have so many clients that are doing wonderfully amazing things that make a big difference in this world, and we are proud to be a part of it.
No matter what your company’s vision is for 2024, be safe and succeed well. And if you are one of the many companies doing amazing things, let’s do it together!